Sunday, March 29, 2020

When Can We Start to Relax?

According to, expert medical estimates of the number of Covid-19 deaths that we can expect in the US range between 36,000 and 1.1 million. Dr. Fauci, a member of President Trump's coronavirus task force, issued his own estimate of between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths, which is in that same range. The biggest variable in determining which end of the estimates prove true is our own behavior. Will we be more like Dallas County or more like Collin County? Will we have the fortitude to keep stay-at-home measures in place long enough?

Some are saying the cure is worse than the disease (and by "some," I mean most importantly President Trump). Again, we should listen to experts, in this case, economic experts. According to Vox, "The University of Chicago’s Booth School routinely polls a panel of distinguished economists for their views on policy issues, and found near-universal assent to the notion that prematurely ending lockdown measures would ultimately be more economically costly than allowing them to proceed." In other words, as painful as the "cure" is, it's still better than letting the disease spread.

So, when can we start to relax? Instead of setting arbitrary dates (Easter!), we should again look to expert medical advice. The American Enterprise Institute says: "The trigger for issuing a recommendation to step down from a stay-at-home-advisory back to 'slow the spread' is when the number of new cases reported in a state has declined steadily for 14 days (i.e., one incubation period) and the jurisdiction is able to test everyone seeking care for COVID-19 symptoms." We're not even at Day 1 of that 14 day period. Tracking it requires data-driven management, not a public relations campaign masquerading as presidential task force press conferences.

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