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COVID-19: Can We Achieve Delayed Gratification

Opening too soon will likely cause a setback in the future.

by Eric Holdeman / February 28, 2021

The New York Times had a very good article last week: "The Coronavirus Is Plotting a Comeback. Here’s Our Chance to Stop It for Good."

While we just passed the half million mark for people who have died from the coronavirus, it is easy to project that we will hit 600,000 dead at a minimum before the pandemic is over. Remembering that the 1918 Flu Pandemic had an estimated 675,000 dead in the United States, our performance so far has not been very good as a nation. 

I would point to a lesson from the most recent football season and how the receiver (American Public) had a guaranteed touchdown on a long play from the line of scrimmage, but the defensive back (virus) caught up to him and knocked the football out of his hands because he (American Public) took his foot off the gas.

Take that visual imagery and apply it to where we are today. Cases are down, hospitalizations are down, deaths are not so much down. The overall trend is looking good. Now is not the time to let up on the gas. My prediction, however, is that collectively we will do so, because that is our nature, but we could act differently in an ideal world. This is when elected leadership at the governor level becomes the critical factor. 

Here is a quote from the linked article above:

"The road back to normalcy is potholed with unknowns: how well vaccines prevent further spread of the virus; whether emerging variants remain susceptible enough to the vaccines; and how quickly the world is immunized, so as to halt further evolution of the virus.

"But the greatest ambiguity is human behavior. Can Americans desperate for normalcy keep wearing masks and distancing themselves from family and friends? How much longer can communities keep businesses, offices and schools closed?

"Scientists call it the fourth wave. The new variants mean 'we’re essentially facing a pandemic within a pandemic,' said Adam Kucharski, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine."

The United States has now recorded 500,000 deaths amid the pandemic, a terrible milestone. As of Wednesday morning, at least 28.3 million people have been infected.

But the rate of new infections has tumbled by 35 percent over the past two weeks, according to a database maintained by The New York Times. Hospitalizations are down 31 percent, and deaths have fallen by 16 percent.

Yet the numbers are still at the horrific highs of November, scientists noted. At least 3,210 people died of Covid-19 on Wednesday alone. And there is no guarantee that these rates will continue to decrease.

“Very, very high case numbers are not a good thing, even if the trend is downward,” said Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. “Taking the first hint of a downward trend as a reason to reopen is how you get to even higher numbers.”

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