Taken from The New York Times
March 25, 2020
President Trump says he wants the United States “raring to go” in two and a half weeks, on Easter, with “packed churches all over our country.” He and many other political conservatives suggest that we are responding to something like the flu with remedies that may be more devastating than the disease.
We created this interactive model with epidemiologists to show why quickly returning to normal could be a historic mistake that would lead to an explosion of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
Instead, health experts advise giving current business closures and social distancing a month to slow the pandemic, buying time to roll out mass testing and equip doctors with protective equipment. Then, depending on where we are, we can think about easing up — while prepared for a new burst of infections that will then require a new clampdown.
Play with this model below by moving the slider to change the length of time that controls are in effect, and you’ll see the impact on lives lost.
Using the length of time you chose, the model suggests that 126.5 million people could contract the coronavirus across the United States between January and late October (with 37.8 million at the peak on June 5). More than 1.3 million people would die under these conditions and 125 million people would recover. Tweak the settings, and these numbers will change.
These numbers offer a false precision, for we don’t understand Covid-19 well enough to model it exactly. But they do suggest the point that epidemiologists are making: For all the yearning for a return to normalcy, that is risky so long as a virus is raging and we are unprotected.
“Anyone advising the end of social distancing now needs to fully understand what the country will look like if we do that,” cautioned Dr. Tom Inglesby, a health security expert at Johns Hopkins University. “Covid would spread widely, rapidly, terribly, and could kill potentially millions in the year ahead, with huge social and economic impact.”