The Math of COVID-19, And Factories

Whether we like it or not, the past months have given us a crash course in epidemiology. COVID-19 has taken terms like reproduction number, herd immunity, social distancing, or flattening the curve from research literature to daily news and instructions for visitors to California State Parks.

We are in the middle of a pandemic we have partially tamed by putting the economy in a coma. This pandemic has already killed more Americans in two months than the Vietnam war in 20 years and we are facing the unprecedented challenge of restarting factories in this context.

Among the many things to learn in a hurry, are what epidemiologist Adam Kucharski calls the rules of contagion, as they apply to the people who work in a factory and its surrounding community.

Quality control is the closest most of us in Manufacturing ever get to serious statistics/data science. It’s not the same domain as epidemiology, and there is little crossover in tools or methods. This is to share what I have just learned about this topic. I welcome any comment that might correct misconceptions on my part or otherwise enlighten us.

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