The longer term outlook…

2020 March 10
by Daniel Lakeland

Coming out the other end of this whole COVID-19 thing… how do we do a good job of sustaining social distancing, and then returning sanely to productivity? The “flatten the curve” idea extends the amount of time one needs to be in “lockdown” but ultimately reduces deaths and severe morbidity… That’s good, but it starts to run into the “how long can we hole up?” question. If things go crazy through the roof, like in China, the duration is shorter. Data here shows from “oh shit” to relatively small per day caseload was about 20 days in china.
That’s a bad thing, because that represents the really “peaked” shape that overwhelms healthcare facilities. Many people died who otherwise might not have…
But if we make that slower, then also the peak occurs later, and the duration is longer, we might need, say 80 days of rather intense social distancing to make that happen. If we figure lockdowns are going to start now and build up through the next 10 days (it’s already something WaPo and The Atlantic and etc are saying)… And then we need 80 days after that… you’re talking 90 days which is 3 months, and puts us starting to return to work around June 1.

Now let’s talk food supply. Unlike China, this virus is spreading country-wide. It’s not contained to a particular place. So mobilizing the national guard to bring food from the midwest to WA because people in the midwest are ok… is not a possibility. How do we feed our country for 80 days without people having to be in contact with each other? We need food delivery systems.

Fortunately, as people get the virus and then recover, they should be immune for at least some period of time. Recovery to the point that they’re not shedding the virus is however probably 30 days? Just a guess, we’ll have to see with serology and PCR combo tests (to test that someone had the virus at some point, and doesn’t shed it now).

This doesn’t help us a lot. We have to do 90 days of relative isolation, and during the first 30 days people are getting the thing and then over the next 30 days those early people are recovering… by the time we hit 90 days, if you haven’t gotten it, you’re running pretty lean on food and things even if you’re well stocked now (and most people really aren’t). Obviously we’ll need to distribute food throughout the 90 days. This is going to require coordination from govt I believe, otherwise we’ll have sick people out there handling food… not good.

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