Is A Lockdown Coming?
These are trying times. The last time I heard the phrase “global event,” it was used to describe a movie in which superheroes save the world from imminent threat. Sadly, in reality, rich men with tech toys are too busy saving themselves to bother with the rest of us. Like everyone else, they are stuck at home.
As I’m writing this, California has just started its “shelter-in-place” response to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to this mathematical model, we might have made it just in time to avoid overwhelming the hospitals.
However, as I’m reading news about county officials giving up the containment fight, I wonder if we are too late. Right now, the hardest hit states all have some sort of measure in place to slow the spread of the virus, but they all fall short of a total lockdown we’ve seen in Wuhan and Italy. These states face one of three scenarios:
Scenario 1: current shelter-in-place measures were implemented in time, where we manage to slow transmissions just enough to avoid crumbling the medical system. In this best-case scenario, shelter-in-place orders might need to extend as long as two to three months.
Scenario 2: keep current measures in place and bear through the pain. In this scenario, hospitals will become overwhelmed. The only question is when and how hard. Under this scenario, I believe the US will far surpass Italy as the epicenter of the pandemic. As the situation turns dire, officials might consider even more extreme measures.
Scenario 3: bring the states (and perhaps the entire country) under total lockdown immediately. Right now, this might the only way to slow down transmission and protect the medical system.
I believe the models above are using official numbers. We all know the official numbers are too low. If that is the case, then we are too late. We are staring down the possibility of a long-term, Italy-style lockdown.
Could it happen? I don’t know. This isn’t China. Or Italy. And Governor Newsom was unclear whether he intends to declare martial law.
Oh, there’s one more possible scenario: the virus goes the way of Zika, and mysteriously disappears. Or Tony Stark exploits a vulnerability in the virus to create a cure… Yeah, didn’t think so.
Created by David Sutoyo who lives and works in Denver, CO.
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