According to many health experts, Americans may be underestimating the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19 has ravished America’s cities, has begun encroaching on the nation’s rural regions.
As of April 23rd:
- Over 850,000 confirmed cases in the US
- Around 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died
- US death toll reached 48,000
- The last 24 hours has seen a rise of nearly 30,000 new COVID-19 cases across the country, with the death toll increasing by around 1,000 Americans.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization director-general, believes that the ominous statistics could get worse before they get better. Ghebreyesus stated in a news briefing “The worst is yet ahead of us”.
On April 16th, President Trump proposed guidelines for reopening the economy while combating COVID-19, and suggested that the US would soon return to somewhat normalcy. These guidelines came in the form of a 3-phase plan.
Phase 1 recommends the following:
- Strict social distancing in public places.
- Avoiding gatherings larger than 10 people.
- Employers to encourage telework whenever possible and feasible with
- Return to work in phases while enforcing strict social distancing in the workplace.
- Avoid nonessential travel
- Gyms and large venues can reopen with proper social distancing and sanitation protocols are in place.
Phase 2 encourages the following:
- Non-essential travel can resume
- Vulnerable individuals should continue to shelter in place.
- Schools and organized youth activity can reopen
- Churches and large venues can reopen with social distancing, limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people unless precautionary measures are taken. Travel could resume.
- Elective surgeries can resume
- Bars may operate with diminished standing-room occupancy
Phase 3 envisions the following:
- A return to normalcy for most Americans, with a focus on identification and isolation of any new infections.
- Employers can resume unrestricted staffing of worksites.
- Bars, gyms, and large venues can reopen with limited social distancing and proper sanitation.
What will happen if the US reopens too fast?
Federal health officials estimated that the American death toll from COVID-19 could reach 300,000 if we abandoned all social distancing measures. Based on this estimate, without further mitigation, coronavirus cases and deaths would double about every five and a half days on average. Four of seven experts interviewed by Public Integrity said certain assumptions in the government’s calculations, such as how deadly the virus is, are too optimistic. According to documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, later estimates pushed this possible death toll even higher. Health officials estimate that without continued mitigation efforts, Florida, Maine, Puerto Rico, West Virginia and Vermont would fare the worst in terms of deaths per capita. Florida, which has already permitted some beaches to reopen if visitors maintain safe distance from each other, would see more than 23,000 deaths.
Scientists measure the intensity of an infectious disease by its reproduction number, which refers to the average number of people that a sick person will infect. The reproduction number for COVID-19 has been estimated at 2.5, but has a direct linear correlation to the amount of social exposure. Since the median incubation period of COVID-19 is around 5 days, without social distancing measures in place, an infected person would spread the virus exponentially before experiencing symptoms and self quarantining. As healthcare professionals and scientists rush to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, social distancing is our first line of defense.
If you are a healthcare professional and you have been affected by the shortage of essential personal protective equipment, we invite you to contact us!