I'm trying to wrap my head around some of the information I'm reading about how to fight Covid-19 and conflicting opinions about how much "social distancing" is required to avert a disaster, or whether social distancing works at all. (my training is in IT and Mathematics, not biology or medicine)
Can social distancing (without hard quarantines, tracking as many cases as possible, and instantly isolating any new cases discovered, etc...) actually lead to 𝑟0 < 1 and therefore reduce the number of infections as opposed to just spreading them out to a manageable rate?
I think the answer is "No", because of small world network theory: The majority of people respect prefect social distancing, i.e. they maintain zero social contact with anybody outside of their immediate family and the the people they interact with for procuring life essentials. Because the number of people who cannot practice social distancing due to their essential role in society (grocery and pharmacy employees, health care professionals, law enforcement, etc...) will still experience very high transmission rates, a small world phenomenon occurs, where the average chain of transmission is still very short between any two individuals in an impacted area. What is wrong with this line of reasoning?
- In general, is 𝑟0 < 1 achievable without a cure, a vaccine, herd immunity, or the ability to track infections with very high accuracy and isolating them instantly?