So, the U.S. is pretty much on the same trajectory Italy took with this thing.
And that is bad.
Italy’s health system was in better shape than ours is, and had more hospital beds per capita; lots more when you factor in that American hospitals have a huge focus on efficiency and not maintaining resources they don’t need day-to-day.
(I discussed my local county’s situation with COVID-19 infections and hospital beds the other day in What’s The Problem: Math From The Back Of An Envelope.)
We are, as Bender often said, boned.
We are also forewarned by their example.
Provided that we learn from it.
We have the opportunity to shape the epidemic here in ways that they did not, provided that we have the intelligence to see it and the will to see it through.
We’ll see how that works out.
But with no evidence that infection leads to an acquired resistance and with no vaccine in sight, we are looking at over a year and likely two of maintaining our distance in order to manage the disease.
(And there’s some evidence that this is helping, which I discussed recently in Kinsa Thermometers: Maybe A Good Thing Right Now?.)
This is doable, and need not actually wreck the economy as the Chicken Littles of the corporate right are already claiming it will.
Some industries will need to either massively re-tool, or mothball.
Concert venues, for example, and anything else that depends on dense crowds are going to have to stay shuttered till we have either a native resistance or a vaccine.
Theaters and restaurants, which can be arranged to distance the clientele, can limp along by rearranging their facilities though they’ll probably need help to do that.
Some industries can actually come out of this ahead.
Office work, for example, rarely needs an actual office and many companies are just now taking their first steps into telecommuting.
A well-managed remote working system can actually save a company a lot of money and result in happier workers, even without the threat of infection.
So any company that’s largely office work can, if they’re careful, come out way ahead in this.
(As can any company that makes good tools for distributed office coordination …)
But they all need to start adapting now.
This will not be over next month, and almost certainly not even next year.
The sooner we start adapting, the better off we all will be.