As the coronavirus pandemic wreaks more and more medical and social havoc worldwide, we need to recall the observation of The Great One—no, not Dr. Tony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health—the other one, hockey player Wayne Gretzky, who said, "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been."
Anticipating what's coming is especially important in confronting an emerging infectious disease whose dynamics and possible impacts we don't yet know. If we react too slowly to changing circumstances, we can fall off a metaphorical cliff.
There's an old brain teaser that perfectly illustrates this point. It posits a pond of a certain size, on which there is a single lily pad. This particular species of lily pad reproduces and duplicates itself once a day, so that on Day 2, you have two lily pads. On Day 3, you have four; on Day 4, you have eight; and so on.
Here's the teaser: If it takes the lily pads 48 days to cover the pond completely, how long will it take for the pond to be covered halfway? The answer is 47 days. Moreover, on Day 40, you'd still hardly know the lily pads were there. If that happens with a virulent, highly contagious infectious agent, you don't know you're in trouble until you wake up one morning to find that you're overwhelmed.
That brings us to today's public health mantra, "flatten the curve," which refers to this graphic:
The graphics don't reproduce here on Pundicity, so to read the entire article (there is no paywall), please go to https://www.mercatus.org/bridge/commentary/simple-lesson-hockey-great-coping-coronavirus.