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News & Member Events: COVID-19

NYT Editorial: How to Reopen America Safely

Thursday, May 21, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Katherine Lally
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Dr. Makary is a surgeon and a professor of health policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.


In late February, as data on the coronavirus pandemic continued to unfold, I started making calls to friends and family to prepare them. I told them to get ready to hunker down for three months. For many then, it was hard to believe that a virus we couldn’t much see evidence of, less understand, would require us to shut down our economy.

I also spoke with C.E.O.s and governors, urging them to close nonessential businesses and enact stay-at-home orders to stop the spread of the virus. Other public health advocates called for the same — and fortunately government and business leaders responded. Their actions saved hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives and spared American hospitals the horrors of rationing care. Shutting down was the right policy at the time.

As circumstances have evolved, so has my thinking. We have survived the surge in hospitalized cases and suffered immense economic trauma. The full lockdown made sense weeks ago. But the situation is changing, and more data on the virus are now available to inform our next steps. The choice before us isn’t to fully lock down or to totally reopen. Many argue as though those are the only options.

As a physician, I firmly believe that the primary goal of our reopening strategy should be to maximize the number of lives saved. But virus mitigation can take many forms, ranging from effective to excessive. Extreme forms of mitigation can have diminishing returns. Projections of the death toll produced by the current economic shutdown are often politically motivated, but the effects on human life are real.

Full article here.

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