Financial markets are careening. Public tours of the very symbols of American political power — the White House, Capitol Hill and Supreme Court — are being put on hold while some congressional offices are shuttering altogether. Campaign rallies are being canceled. Professional sports leagues have suspended play. And Broadway is shutting down.
Each day, more and more employees are working remotely at companies large and small. Even the White House is considering mass teleworking. Schools are being closed or going virtual. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said students across the state will have a three-week spring break beginning Monday, effectively closing K-12 schools for the rest of the month. And travel is being discouraged — and in the case of foreign visitors from most of Europe, banned. Some cruise lines are even halting voyages on their ships.
America is shutting down as Americans learn to adapt to life amid the coronavirus pandemic, a global health crisis that is straining public health systems and burrowing deeper into advanced economies and societies by the day. The question nobody can yet answer: for how long?
“I am confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus,” President Donald Trump said Wednesday evening, announcing a 30-day ban on certain travel from Europe.
But domestically, the administration has been slow to issue specific guidance or declare a nationwide state of emergency, leaving governors, mayors and other local officials to implement a patchwork of guidelines and rulings that vary from state to state. The Trump team’s response has been the subject of steady criticism in recent weeks amid its struggles to ramp up testing and rhetorical misfires from the president, who spent weeks downplaying the economic and public health threats posed by the virus’ spread. [Continue reading…]
China locked down megacities. Italy has put its entire populace into quarantine. Now New York’s governor has turned the town of New Rochelle into a “containment zone.”
As the coronavirus continues its spread, officials are beginning to consider whether the United States should enact the type of large-scale, mandatory lockdowns touted by Beijing and praised at times by World Health Organization officials.
The simple answer, according to experts, is no. But as the United States considers its next moves, there are lessons to be learned from what happened in China and other countries where cases are declining.
Striking a balance with measures that are effective but not inordinate is critical, according to public health researchers who warn that extreme policies such as mandatory regionwide quarantines could run into ethical, legal and logistical problems or even backfire.
Instead, ramping up testing capacity, quickly isolating sick or suspected patients, and introducing policies that limit public gatherings or require working from home have proved effective in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea. [Continue reading…]