Try Social Distancing Scenarios With This Pandemic Simulator
Will the virus spread more slowly if we remove physical distancing rules but only visit our neighbors? How many people need to follow the guidelines in order for them to work? Is “quarantine friendship” with a partner family an effective way to keep yourself safe? You can simulate the answers to these questions yourself with a little game called COVID Crush.
The game is a toy model of disease transmission, so please do not confuse it with a detailed epidemiological forecast. It simply uses a few simple rules to show how one point can “infect” another, and allows you to observe the interaction of thousands of these points over the course of a simulated month.
This differs from reality in one important difference: there are no deaths, only people who recover. And a few more ways: the incubation period is one to three days, and the point is infectious for four to seven days. This is shorter than what we know about COVID-19 in real life. It is also assumed that the disease spreads relatively evenly and randomly, although we know that some large gatherings of people can become “over- spread ” events, while many cases do not spread very far at all.
However, this is great food for thought. With the free movement of dots and the absence of established rules of social distance, 86% of my little people with dots were infected by the end of the “month”. If I turned on social distancing as soon as one of my points got sick (allowing 20% of the points not to distance themselves, either because they were jerks or because they were important workers and couldn’t do anything about it), only 4% got infected.
The numbers depend on the exact moment you tweak the settings, so consider what happens if you turn on the social distance switch sooner or later during a flash. When I waited until I had 10 disease points instead of one, by the end of the month 63% were infected instead of 4%. I caught myself thinking that I remember when they started blocking in different places. It might have seemed too early at the time; In hindsight, most places probably started too late. Playing with the dotted screen can help you make sense of your own experience, so give it a try.