Hunker down for R<1

Hunker down for R<1

R is the amount of people that a person infects during a pandemic that is spreading at an exponential rate.

Avalanche forecasters use experience with past or recent patterns and events along with science, math and physics to project the likelihood and scale of future events. Mountain guides continuously evaluate likelihood and consequences, managing risk. Through my work as an avalanche forecaster and a guide I have developed my brain to think about risk, reward, consequences, and volume through time and space. However, at this point most people realize and agree that we are facing a major event. A recent note from a colleague read "Take care, we are in the middle of a 1:100 year event." That is a good estimation, but it could easily become a 1:300, 1:1000, or even a 1:10,000 year event depending on measures taken.

How do we lessen the scale of this event?

I can draw an analogy to climbing a mountain in a thunderstorm that is growing worse by the minute. Do we decide to keep climbing in the hopes of progress and to “tag the summit”? The higher we go, the more likely we are to get struck by lightning because of a number of factors. Mountains cause air to lift, and lightning strikes high places first because the mountains are closer to, or in the clouds. The more time that goes on, the higher and darker the clouds build, and the more frequent the lightning strikes become.

The only way to lessen the scale is to bring R to become less than 1.
How do we do that? Until there is a vaccine we need to lock er’ down. Hunker down. Wait it out. Only expose one person per household to one other person or potential surface once every few days. This is more difficult than it appears, as the thick and robust web of global connectivity needs to essentially get minced, and then stitched back together when the time is right. Can we possibly accomplish R<1 before it's too late if strict, nationwide measures are not implemented immediately? That remains to be seen, but we do need reassurance that we can ride this thing out without losing our bare necessities of food, water, shelter, and some comfort.

The more rational person will face the facts, and find a safe place to hunker down until the storms pass. The question is, how high do you let yourself climb before deciding to hunker down? There is a little voice in your head that says, STOP!! To a very large degree, it’s on us at this point. This is our new reality. Change can, and has been coming from within. To those who live in areas where they only see small puffy clouds off on the horizon, the storm is brewing and it will be there before you know it. Tell your climbing partners you are concerned.

There is also the very realistic potential that we run out of intensive care systems, which will effectively increase the power of a lightning strike. If you break your leg up there, or get into other medical trouble, proper care may not be available. In addition, there is a growing list of unforeseen effects further down the line.

It can be done: China used strict measures to get their R down to 0.32. Each household was allowed to leave once every three days and only for food or medical assistance. They also locked down the province of Wuhan from anyone coming or going (mincing the global web). South Korea used daily testing and technology to show people on their phones where and how often they were getting exposed (their potential R value). Italy climbed high and is now hunkered down, but it's a rough ride. Other countries around the world are beginning to break up the web, attempting drastic measures in an attempt at suppression.

This story is an open book. The storms are building, the frequency of lightning is intensifying, fast. Lets all get our R <1 please, thank you.