The Questions Without Answers: How Long Will This Last?; What’s The Actual Death Rate?; Will Summer Weather Help Curb Spread?
Because we've never dealt with this particular coronavirus before, even public health experts are stumped on some of the big questions that the world is asking. In other news: the death rate may be lower than previously estimated; a generational divide is splintering the response to the virus; and a look at past pandemics may offer ideas on how to fight this one.
The New York Times:
How Long Will The Coronavirus Outbreak And Shutdown Last?
If we are relying on social or physical distancing to slow down infection, the prevailing optimistic guess among experts on when the virus will abate is about two months: significantly earlier than Mr. Trump’s prediction. “I’d say the beginning of May we’re going to feel like we’re coming out of this,” said Morgan Katz, an assistant professor of infectious disease at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “That’s my hope.” To make loose predictions on how long this outbreak and societal disruption might last in the United States, she and many other experts are turning to China. (Nierenberg, 3/16)
The Washington Post:
How Long Will Social Distancing For Coronavirus Last In The United States?
How long are we going to have to keep this up? The closed schools, working from home, six feet of personal space and zombie-apocalypse empty streets? It’s the question now preoccupying America as millions of parents silently scream it into the void amid the coronavirus pandemic. But it is an especially hard one for science to answer. The best and most honest reply, according to epidemiologists and virologists, is simple: “It depends.” It’s not going to be over anytime soon — a matter of months rather than weeks. And these are the key factors that will determine just how many months. (Wan, 3/16)
Explaining Mass Quarantine: What's Legal? And Who Can Call For It?
Six counties in the San Francisco metro area made headlines when they announced Monday they were ordering all their residents to “shelter in place” in response to the novel coronavirus. The sweeping proclamation is the most striking example to date of state and local governments in the United States taking sweeping action to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus and to limit the impact of the disease it causes, Covid-19. While the Bay Area is the first region in the U.S. to issue such an order, a number of states have mandated school and business closures and vastly curtailed nearly all major events. (Florko, 3/17)
Lower Death Rate Estimates For Coronavirus Provide Glimmer Of Hope
In a rare piece of good news about Covid-19, a team of infectious disease experts calculates that the fatality rate in people who have symptoms of the disease caused by the new coronavirus is about 1.4%. Although that estimate applies specifically to Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak began, and is based on data from there, it offers a guide to the rest of the world, where many countries might see even lower death rates. (Begley, 3/16)
The New York Times:
Could Coronavirus Cause As Many Deaths As Cancer In The U.S.? Putting Estimates In Context
Although it’s impossible to say how many Americans will die because of the new coronavirus, under a reasonable set of assumptions the number of fatalities could be high — potentially in the hundreds of thousands or more. Deaths on that scale are not easy to grasp. To put the estimates in context, we’re comparing the possible toll with other leading causes of death in the United States in 2018, the most recent year with data available. We’ve started with an estimate from a Nebraska University public health researcher, Dr. James Lawler, that was recently presented to hospital executives: 480,000 American deaths over the course of the illness known as Covid-19. (Katz, Sanger-Katz and Quealy, 3/16)
Will Humidity Stem Spread Of Coronavirus? It’s Too Early To Say, But One Specialist Is Hopeful
When President Donald Trump asserted last month that the novel coronavirus may dissipate “as the heat comes in” -- that is, in warmer weather -- infectious disease experts responded with skepticism. The virus is less than three months old and, it’s not clear if it will dissipate as the seasons change from winter to spring like some other respiratory viruses tend to. But researchers now suggest that humidity, more than heat, may prove effective at choking off the person-to-person transmissions that make the disease’s spread so dangerous. (Bruggeman, 3/16)
The Wall Street Journal:
A Generational War Is Brewing Over Coronavirus
Scientists and government officials fighting the coronavirus epidemic say they have a problem: Carefree youths. As authorities moved to restrict social gatherings last week, bars and restaurants from New York to Berlin filled up with revelers, illegal “lockdown parties” popped up in France and Belgium, and campuses in the U.S. lit up for end-of-the-world dorm parties. So far, most young Covid-19 patients have experienced mild or no symptoms from the virus, while more severe cases are concentrated among those aged 50 and over. Data released last week by the National Health Institute in Italy, currently the world’s worst-hit country, shows mortality rates starting at 0% for patients aged 0 to 29 and edging up to peak at 19% for those over 90. (Pancevski, Meichtry and Fontdegloria, 3/17)
The New York Times:
Coronavirus Is Hiding In Plain Sight
Scientists tracking the spread of the coronavirus reported on Monday that, for every confirmed case, there are most likely another five to 10 people in the community with undetected infections. These often-milder cases are, on average, about half as infectious as confirmed ones, but are responsible for nearly 80 percent of new cases, according to the report, which was based on data from China. (Carey, 3/16)
Are Pregnant Women At A Higher Risk For Coronavirus? Short Answer: We Don’t Know
Many readers have submitted questions to the Globe regarding possible risks to pregnant women amid the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s some guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to an advisory posted to the CDC website, researchers currently don’t know whether pregnant women are at a greater risk of contracting the virus or related serious illness. (Andersen, 3/16)
Kaiser Health News:
Ships, Planes, Trains, Scooters All Need A Virus Wipe. But What Does A ‘Deep Clean’ Mean?
The Diamond Princess cruise ship. A Georgetown church in Washington, D.C. A Latin American restaurant in Raleigh, North Carolina. A hotel in Oklahoma City. Two Broadway theaters in New York City.All announced that they’ve undergone a “deep clean” in recent weeks after discovering that a person infected with the novel coronavirus had been there. They are just the tip of a pile of businesses and consumer gathering spots that say they are stepping up cleaning protocols. (Knight and Heredia Rodriguez, 3/17)
Polio Epidemic Offers Guidance For Getting Through COVID-19
Clues on how to fight the coronavirus lie within history’s past epidemics, including devastating outbreaks of polio.A vaccine was developed in 1955, the same year thousands were infected by the polio virus — including Here & Now host Robin Young and her siblings. In some states, 50 new cases popped up each day. (Young, 3/16)