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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. 

We will be using the following data from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Dashboard:

NEW CASES (on a given day)


If we are moving in the right direction than the NEW CASE numbers will be below the 7 Day Average and continue to drop.

However, if we become lax in our habits and/or a new, more contagious variant emerges than you would see the NEW CASE numbers above (and rising) over the 7 DAY Average.

Data for the US and each State will be updated every Tuesday at a minimum.


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