Why #socialdistancing is life or death (Quebec version)

Hugh McGuire
2 min readMar 20, 2020


(I haven’t written anything here in a long while, I guess the apocalypse is as good a time as any to get back at it.)

Taking social distancing very seriously helps reduce the spread of COVID. The impacts are huge. The “natural” growth of COVID before major social distancing measures are in place is around 30% per day. This was true in Italy, France, Spain, Germany, and other countries that are further ahead in life with COVID. Typically once major/lockdown & social distancing measures are in place, the growth rate drops to 20% a day or less.**

Other important data: about 10% of COVID cases need hospitalization; about 1% of cases die.

Currently, the daily % increase in COVID cases in Quebec (average in last 5 days) is: 38.9%

Here are the projections for 30 days (by April 19) if we don’t slow the spread, and continue growing at 38.9% / day* ..

If spread continues at 38.9%/day:

  • Number of QC cases on April 19: 1.8 Million
  • Number of QC hospitalizations: 180,000
  • Number of dead in QC: 18,000

If we reduce spread to 30%/day:

  • Number of QC cases on April 19: 246,000
  • Number of QC hospitalizations: 24,628
  • Number of dead in QC: 2,463

If we reduce spread to 20%/day:

  • Number of QC cases on April 19: 22,313
  • Number of QC hospitalizations: 2,231
  • Number of dead in QC: 223

Here’s my spreadsheet, with links to data. If you are interested in making something webby & pretty with this model that will help people understand the implications, please let me know, I guess on Twitter? @hughmcguire.

*NOTE1: This number is high, likely because as testing ramps up we are just finding more cases that were there rather than detecting spread.

**NOTE2: It’s possible that the natural growth rate would drop anyway. Do you want to be in the place where that theory is tested?



Hugh McGuire

books and/on the web: reb.us, pressbooks.com, librivox.org, iambik.com, and a few other bits & bobs.