Ending lockdowns might be safer than we thought

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There’s been endless debate about whether or not it is currently safe to end the lockdowns in many different parts of the country. 

Most states are beginning with a phased reopening.

They might be limiting capacity in certain restaurants or requiring staff members to wear masks. Social distancing is also another major factor when it comes to re-opening places. 

But one of the biggest concerns that people have had is that as soon as we start to reopen the country, the number of infections is not only going to rise but it may spike and cause another major surge that could potentially even overwhelm the healthcare system.

But one of the main models being used to predict coronavirus deaths (the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation) is showing some interesting trends that suggest that ending these lockdowns might be safer than many people expected.

Basically, the new coronavirus death model has shown a decrease of projected deaths.

It’s currently predicting 143,360 people will die by August 4 — about 3,700 fewer deaths than the model predicted when it was last updated May 12.

Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, told CNN Monday night that he was “pretty surprised” by his model’s downward revision and that “what’s really been fascinating is there’s not a strong correlation between where mobility’s gone up and the trend in cases and deaths, even when we take into account the increase in testing.”

It is possible that the numbers here are lagging and that the number of new cases and deaths will still spike.

“I think we’re going to really need to watch the next week or two, because we sort of expected to see it by now, but certainly it could just be a lagged effect,” Murray said. “And I think we may also run into the phenomenon that people may get fatigued of being cautious — stop wearing a mask, start having more physical contact.”

But the early indications based on the modeling here is that there is not a super strong correlation between where things have opened up and new cases.

If this holds true, then we might be able to see society open up across the country in a much quicker way than we initially anticipated.

So why are numbers not skyrocketing right now?

Well, they believe that it is in large part due to the usage of masks.

“Our explanation for that is if you dig a little bit deeper, and look into the fraction of the population in different states that are wearing masks, we think that’s really the key difference there — both their behavior and mask wearing.”

This would be in line with other modeling that has been done suggesting that the wearing of masks by the public is one of the most important (if not the most important) for cutting down on transmission rates.

So if you have been on the fence about wearing a mask while out in public consider that sophisticated modeling is indicating that wearing a mask (where it makes sense to wear one) could help open society back up safely in a quick fashion.

H/T

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