This Is How We Can Beat the Coronavirus

This March 20, 2020 photo shows a jogger running past a sign on the Bradley beach, N.J. oceanfront urging people to use "social distancing" to maintain space between each other even in the outdoors during the coronavirus outbreak.

This March 20, 2020 photo shows a jogger running past a sign on the Bradley beach, N.J. oceanfront urging people to use "social distancing" to maintain space between each other even in the outdoors during the coronavirus outbreak. AP Photo

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

COMMENTARY | Mitigation can buy us time, but only suppression can get us to where we need to be.

While many watched the coronavirus spread across the globe with disinterest for months, in the last week, most of us have finally realized it will disrupt our way of life. A recent analysis from Imperial College is now making some Americans, including many experts, panic. The report projects that 2.2 million people could die in the United States. But the analysis also provides reason for hope—suggesting a path forward to avoid the worst outcomes.

We can make things better; it’s not too late. But we have to be willing to act.

Let’s start with the bad news. The Imperial College response team’s report looked at the impact of measures we might take to flatten the curve, or reduce the rate at which people are becoming sick with COVID-19. If we do nothing and just let the virus run its course, the team predicts, we could see three times as many deaths as we see from cardiovascular disease each year. Further, it estimated that infections would peak in mid-June. We could expect to see about 55,000 deaths, in just one day.

Of course, we are doing something, so this outcome is unlikely to occur. We’re closing schools and businesses and committing to social (really, physical) distancing. But as the sobering charts from the analysis show, this isn’t enough. Even after we do these things, the report predicts that a significant number of infections will occur, that more people will need care than we can possibly provide in our hospitals, and that more than 1 million could die.

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