Saturday, July 11, 2020

The coronavirus is a 'hurricane coming.' Stay-at-home may be the only way to survive that storm.

Time to shut down again? As coronavirus cases surge, a growing chorus makes the case reports the Washington Post. Here is a short version with excerpts.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is reluctant to recommend a new round of stay-at-home. However, with Arizona and other states experiencing a major surge that overwhelms hospitals, some experts see that as the only hope of controlling the spiking coronavirus pandemic.

“Stay-at-home is a blunt instrument,” said Farshad Fani Marvasti, director of public health at the University of Arizona College of Medicine Phoenix. “But when you’re leading the world in new cases and things don’t seem to be getting better, you may have to use that blunt instrument."

"We see the hurricane coming. In some places, it’s already here,” said Thomas Tsai, a Harvard health policy researcher and surgeon. “The question is whether you’re going to evacuate your citizens from the path.”

The evidence so far, Tsai said, suggests not.

“We’re watching this unfold and we’re frozen,” he said.

At the Harvard Global Health Institute, with which Tsai is affiliated, researchers recently put together a national tracker to assess the severity of the outbreak in all 50 states.

As of Thursday, 15 of them were in a state of “accelerated spread,” meaning that stay-at-home orders should at least be considered, along with aggressive testing and tracing programs.

Another five — Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina and Georgia — were flashing red. In those states, the outbreaks are so advanced that researchers say stay-at-home measures are no longer optional. They should be mandatory.

In Arizona, cumulative deaths topped 2,000 on Thursday and daily hospitalizations hit another high. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has urged people to stay home when possible, and he has reinstated closures of bars, water parks, movie theaters and gyms.

But so far, that hasn’t been sufficient. The case counts continue to rise in a way that public health experts say is reminiscent of the exponential growth that the world’s worst-hit places experienced earlier this year, before stay-at-home orders kicked in.

“We don’t want to become another New York, another Italy,” Marvasti said. “But that’s where we’re headed. We need to learn our lesson from these places.”

Read more at the Washington Post’s report. My reading indicates that the essence of the ongoing debate reduces to three options. (1) Continue opening up and live with more deaths. (2) Pause the opening and slow the increasing number of cases. (3) Shut down, order stay-at-home, and live with the economic impact.

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