COVID: “States and cities need to watch the data and design circuit breakers that prompt new restrictions if infections start snowballing.”


Yes, the key word is “if.”

Last week was the first in Indiana for reopened restaurants. We’ll all be looking at the trends after the coming week. After that, we’ll see.

Following is the newsletter synopsis, so click the link to read the complete article.

For reopening states, circuit breakers are needed, by Max Nisen (Bloomberg)

As even hard-hit states begin to reopen, the last thing anyone wants to hear about is the possibility of closing back down. Unfortunately, it’s something governors need to consider.

As rules are relaxed, more new infections are inevitable. Given Covid-19’s ability to spread undetected and America’s limited ability to test, isolate and trace contacts of infected individuals, there will be opportunities for those infections to multiply into fresh outbreaks. The risk of deadly surges will grow as people grow more comfortable, and activity expands.

States and cities need to watch the data and design circuit breakers that prompt new restrictions if infections start snowballing.

Other countries have set a precedent. China has imposed new lockdowns and dramatic testing efforts in several regions in response to relatively few untraced cases. Singapore managed to control an early outbreak with intensive testing and tracing efforts. Still, it tripped a circuit breaker and imposed significant new restrictions in April after a rash migrant worker infections. It recently extended many of those measures into June.

Germany, as it reopens, is watching to see whether any region exceeds 50 new infections per 100,000 residents over seven days; if so, limits on movement and behavior will be reinstated there.

America is in a more precarious state without a consistent plan. Several states reopened quite broadly without meeting the Trump administration’s guidelines like a 14-day downward trajectory in new cases or positive test rates. Contact tracing programs are forming amid widespread community transmission that’s well above Germany’s line for further restrictions.

America’s high rate of infections only amplifies its need to draw lines. States and cities need circuit breakers in place well before autumn, when a possible surge in Covid-19 could combine with an emerging flu season to produce especially dangerous new outbreaks.

An outbreak large enough to threaten hospital capacity is the worst-case scenario, but states shouldn’t wait until then to act. Rapidly escalating spread should also trigger targeted restrictions, giving hospitals and contact tracers a chance to catch up. As New York City and other profoundly affected areas have demonstrated, hospitals take longer to empty than they do to fill, and a great deal of suffering occurs long before all the beds are full.

Any renewed restrictions are likely to be both disruptive and divisive. But early, targeted, and data-driven closures are likely to be far more popular than the broader shutdowns that may be required if severe new outbreaks aren’t successfully interrupted.