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How Long Will the Coronavirus Last?

I'm reminded of a road trip with kids, five miles into a 500-mile trip.

When will we get there? That is the question every parent has heard from the back seat on any road trip. It is the same question being asked today by the parents, but reference the coronavirus, "When do you expect it to be over?" See this article, How long will social distancing for coronavirus have to last? Depends on these factors.

President Trump was asked this question during his Monday news conference. His answer was very surprising to me, since he has tended to sugar-coat the impacts of the virus. Basically he said, it could be "July-August, or later." Now there was an accurate and more pessimistic estimate — very unusual for him. See my blog post on his previous pronouncements, A Timeline of President Trump's Remarks about the Coronavirus.

Personally, I think this is what you need to do. Give what you think might be a worst case. If it is better than that, all well and good. But, giving the more negative perspective on what is to come helps them get through the event.

Let me tell you the about the longest night of my life. It was the last day of Ranger School. I'm in a swamp, out on an 11-day patrol and totally beat, mentally and physically. Sleep and food deprivation are used to put stress on the Ranger candidates. Earlier in the patrol, I was falling asleep as I was walking. I'd catch myself starting to fall — while walking. As you come out of a swamp, which is pitch black at night, you can see it "lightening up" in the distance. All night it seemed to me that it looked like it was getting lighter — but, no, it wasn't really getting lighter. Perhaps it was my wishful thinking or a visual aberration. The PRC-77 radio I was carrying kept getting heavier and heavier. The longest night of my life, waiting for the end! 

Making sure people know what to expect and not holding out false hope is better than disappointing them again and again.

As the first linked article above states, there could be waves of virus that sweep back over previously infected places. We could be back to where we are today next fall. Too many unknowns to give out artificial hope. 

Another danger point will be when COVID-19 numbers start to get better and people think it is over. That will loosen up the controls and it may be just what is needed to restart the virus circulating again. Bad news!

Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.