Charts That Will Convince You to Stay Home

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis, and subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

One bright side of the coronavirus crisis has been the use of data visualization to convince people of the merits of social distancing. As a data nerd, it makes me incredibly happy to see a sizable chunk of the non-nerdy population talking about “flattening the curve.”

If you understood this chart, you’ve understood normal distribution, standard deviation, and variance, three foundational statistical concepts. The idea behind social distancing is to stay at home or away from people (whether you have the virus or not) so you can slow the spread of the virus and not overburden the healthcare system. The flatter the curve, the higher the standard deviation, which in this case means fewer people are infected at the same time.

If you’re not still not convinced that social distancing would help, here’s a series of simulations by the Washington Post that go through various hypothetical scenarios from forced quarantine (as China did in some provinces) to moderate self-imposed social distancing. The interactive charts clearly show that when fewer people are out and about, the virus takes much longer to spread. 

This chart from Datawrapper shows some countries have been able to slow down the spread of the virus by visualizing how long it takes for the number of COVID-19 cases to double. Turns out that many European countries and the U.S. are still seeing cases double every 2-3 days, but South Korea and China have been able to slow the number of cases doubling to much longer, thus flattening the curve.

Last, but not the least, this positive chart from epidemiologist Britta Jewell shows how one person can make a huge difference. According to her estimates, your choice to socially distance yourself today can prevent 2,400 people from being infected over a month. Yet if you wait another week to hole up, you’ll only avert 600 infections. The coronavirus may spread exponentially, but so do the benefits of staying home and checking out cool charts. 

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.