I’ve been confused by the recent “spikes” in COVID-19 cases around the world — wondering if they were an early “wave” that we were expecting this fall. Check out this analogy that helps make sense of the spread:
Why did the second wave of COVID-19 start so soon? Everyone said it wouldn’t happen until the fall. Does that mean the fall one will be a third wave? How many waves will there be? Who can we trust now?
This whole “wave” thing is dreadfully misunderstood. For the moment, forget about “waves” and think, instead, in terms of swimming in shark-infested waters.
You are at the beach, with hundreds or thousands of others, enjoying the water, body-surfing, and having a good time.
All of a sudden, the lifeguards spot sharks, and several swimmers are killed. Body parts bob in the ocean and wash up on shore.
The coast guard observes entire schools of sharks, and swimmers are warned NOT to go into the ocean. But, a few people ignore the warning and take their chances by swimming in the ocean. Several more people are mutilated by these sharks, and then more sharks appear because the water is now rich with food (blood and body parts).
Finally, the beach is closed and nobody is allowed in the water. Then, shark attacks go down because nobody is swimming in the water. People are staying on home or staying far away from the shoreline.
But, the sharks are still there. Nobody did anything to eliminate or get rid of the sharks, right?
With no casualties for days, or even weeks, swimmers go to the beach to enjoy the water, bodysurf, and have a good time. Note: “Beach Closed” signs were still posted but the swimmers decided to go ahead and enter the water.
Guess what happens?
The sharks maime and kill them! Lots of them.
Why? Because people went back into the water before it was safe to do so.
Now think COVID-19. We haven’t found a way to stop the coronavirus. We have no vaccine. We have no cure. The virus is still out there and still killing people. If you go out and expose yourself to the coronavirus, you are increasing the chance of getting sick or dying.
The only “wave” is the wave of PEOPLE who disregard warnings to stay home, keep a safe distance from others, and wear a mask because they think the coronavirus is under control. And every time they go out, more people get sick, spread the virus to others, and die.
The virus doesn’t “do” waves; PEOPLE DO.
Think Florida, Texas, and California. These states are seeing surges in numbers of COVID-19 because PEOPLE are disregarding the warnings from scientists and doctors.
Until we know how to kill the coronavirus or have an effective vaccine, our only defense is to stay home, keep a safe distance, and wear a mask — until the virus has no more human food.
I paraphrased John Geare’s brilliant analogy.