I know I said several weeks ago that There’s No Such Thing As “Too Soon”, but this is different.
Really, really different.
That post was arguing that it’s never “too soon” to talk about the causes and possible solutions to a social problem; this post is about how right now is too soon to start trying to return society to normal functioning.
First, back to yesterday.
First, take a look at this graph from Here’s the US Death Toll From COVID-19 Not Counting New York, that I linked to yesterday in You Should Read This: SC2 Is Still Spreading In Most of America:
So, excluding New York whose large numbers mask the trendline for the rest of the country, the United States is still having around 1,500 deaths per day and rising from COVID-19.
The “and rising” part is particularly important there.
This is deaths, since the testing in the U.S. is too minimal and variable for a count of cases to be particularly useful, so it’s really a view on how the spread of infections was doing a week or two ago. You’d expect a lag of a few weeks between the infections slowing down and deaths slowing down.
(The new-cases-per-day is also kinda flat-ish, but is rising by 1-2% per day too.)
New York is past their peak, but the rest of the U.S. in general is not.
Close, maybe, but still not past the peak.
Now look at this graph, from A lesson from history on the dangers of lifting lockdown too soon: How San Francisco’s deaths more than DOUBLED in a second peak when it ended social distancing after just a month in 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic (The Daily Mail likes long headlines):
Only camels should have two humps like that; pandemic deaths should not.
That is an example of what happens when you almost stick it out long enough, but try to go back to normal just a little too early.
In 1918, San Francisco’s rapid and widespread response to the flu pandemic almost stopped it.
But they got antsy and ended up throwing the party a week or so before the disease was actually stopped, so the virus started spreading again and had doubled the death toll by the time they managed to get it stopped for real.
There’s a lesson in there somewhere.
- stay home when you can
- avoid folks who don’t
Don’t get ahead of your skis.
This is not over yet; if we try to get back to normal before it is, we’ll only make it far worse.