PSA: Social Distancing Is Crucial. Don’t Even Think About Easing Up Yet.

Of course everyone wants a return to normal. But doing so too quickly could be catastrophic.

Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog
2 min readMar 24, 2020

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On Tuesday President Donald Trump announced that he would like to see the U.S. “opened up and just raring to go by Easter.” The move sparked concern among health experts, since that’s only a couple weeks away and state governments are embarking on multi-week lockdowns.

The economic and social toll of Covid-19 is devastating, with people across the world losing jobs. But there’s a reason, experts say, that social distancing needs to remain at aggressive levels for longer than just to the holiday.

Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb put it succinctly on Twitter:

There’s a strong and understandable desire to return to better times and a functioning economy. But it should not be lost on anyone that there’s no such thing as a functioning economy and society so long as Covid-19 continues to spread uncontrolled in our biggest cities.

So long as Covid-19 spreads uncontrolled, older people will die in historic numbers, middle aged folks [will be] doomed to prolonged ICU stays to fight for their lives, hospitals will be overwhelmed, and most Americans terrified to leave homes, eat out, take the subway or go to the park.

The only way to return to a stable economy and restore our liberty, is to end epidemic spread of Covid-19. We need a massive effort to offset the hardship of these efforts, and the public health costs they impose, as there are more than economic costs to the measures we’re taking.

You can read the full thread here.

Opening businesses and relaxing social distancing orders too soon has the potential to exacerbate the virus’ spread, causing millions of deaths, which would surely destabilize the economy further.

“If you look at the trajectory of the curves of outbreaks and other areas, it’s at least going to be several weeks,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told the Today Show on March 20. “I cannot see that all of a sudden, next week or two weeks from now it’s going to be over. I don’t think there’s a chance of that.”

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Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Health and science journalist. Former editor of Medium’s Covid-19 Blog and deputy editor at Elemental. TIME Magazine writer before that