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Steven Goodreau and Martina Morris Launch “Can’t I Please Just Visit One Friend?” Project and Website

Posted: 4/19/2020 (CSDE in the News and CSDE Research)

“Can’t I please just visit one friend?” is a question that many of us have asked during social distancing. Nevertheless, in a website that visualizes social networks, CSDE Affiliates Steven Goodreau and Martina Morris demonstrate how visiting “just one friend” can undo the work of measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The website depicts multiple network simulations of a 200 households community using the programming language R.

While visiting “just one friend” may seem harmless, Goodreau and Morris’ simulations demonstrate how 71% of households can easily become connected if only some households establish social connections with others—consequently, each of these connections is an opportunity for the virus to spread.

As Morris emphasized in last week’s NYT article on COVID transmission, she stated for UW News that “with COVID-19, many types of connections can transmit the virus…what we show is that you don’t need superspreaders to create network connectivity for transmission; visiting just one friend is equally effective for connecting a community into one large cluster.”

Goodreau and Morris’ website and simulations have been featured in multiple recent news articles in UW News, the New York TimesKIRO 7Medium, and KUOW/NPR. Additionally, CSDE Student Emily Pollock and research scientists Jeanette Birnbaum and Deven Hamilton collaborated with Goodreau and Morris on this project. In Goodreau’s words, “This was a quick time-sensitive effort, but it builds upon years and years of work by the Network Modeling Group, all made possible by CSDE’s strong research infrastructure and intellectual community.”

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