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Why is R Naught so Important?

Couple of reasons.

First, it basically serves as a scorecard.  One of the things known about viruses (especially ones that turn into pandemics) is that they only start to die out when the number of people that one person can infect (the R0) drops below 1. 

Think about this for a second. 

If the number of people you can infect is over 1 then of course a virus will continue to move through a population.  Dropping R0 below 1 and getting it as close to ZERO is the best possible outcome. 

Second – right now R0 may be one of the few symbols that can serve to unite us. 

Covid-19 is real.  

As a virus it has an R0 value. 

If we need to vent frustrations and be angry it should be directed at the source – this virus! 

Through our actions we will either provide it open access to spread or continue to drive it down. And while I’m not a big believer in slogans I do believe that they can be used to help make a difference. That used the right way, they can help all of us pitch in a little bit more to have a huge impact.

Let’s get back to the scorecard idea because while the idea of R0 is simple and incredibly valuable; the actual real-world calculation is anything but.

However, we can create a shorthand version that while not technically accurate gives us a pretty clear idea if our efforts are paying off. 

This version is the "Effective Reproduction Rate"  and is the average number of people who become infected by an infectious person. If Rt is above 1.0, the virus will spread quickly. When Rt is below 1.0, the virus will stop spreading.

Simple Example:

New Cases:             100

Total Cases:            1100

Rt Value:                  1.1

How to understand this value.  The 1.1 actually represents a 10% increase in new cases as it relates to total cases. 

Now comes the useful Law of 72. 

Take the number 72 and divide by the daily percentage increase (10).  The answer will tell you how many days whatever you are measuring will DOUBLE! In the example above in 7.2 days you would have approximately 2,200 cases.


As of this writing there are currently over 2.5  million cases in the US. If we don’t drop the R0 by end of July we could be looking at 3.4 million cases. Given the recent relaxation of many stay at home state guidelines it would appear that these numbers might be underestimated.

This is why R0 is so important - it is our collective scorecard and we all need to try and focus on the real “enemy” – Covid-19.

On our Home Page we are now using the data from www.Rt.live with a simple page for each state as well as a National page that provides for you the following information so you can keep track and stay informed.  This information will be updated daily.


Current Rt Value:


Bottom Line:    Our collective future is dependent upon every single individual action – during this pandemic and the next.  Be informed. Choose wisely.