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Video Play COVID Crush with an epidemiologist

May 19, 2020

Social epidemiologist Malia Jones and her colleague at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Applied Population Lab, Caitlin Bourbeau, have created a new game meant to help simulate the transmission of a disease like COVID-19.

Called COVID Crush, the game allows players to experiment with a number of different physical distancing scenarios (also called social distancing), watching how it leads to or limits the spread of COVID-19 in a population of 1,000 dots, which represent individual people.

For instance, it shows what could happen as communities begin to ease restrictions that have largely kept people at home, and what happens if we all started visiting our five nearest neighbors. Players can control when physical distancing begins and ends, how many people don’t follow physical distancing, and the movement patterns of those who don’t stay at home.

In the video, Malia shows us how to play, and describes what several scenarios might mean during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the pandemic hit, Jones and Bourbeau were in the midst of developing a different game to help demonstrate the concept of herd immunity, which refers to the protection a population of people has from an infectious disease when a majority of them are vaccinated against it or otherwise immune. You can experiment with that game here: