The COVID-19 Epidemic: Closed down for three weeks - when can we open?Apr 13, 2020
Now, a delicate and impossible balancing begins. How soon can the policies that have increased social distancing be relaxed and by how much? The balancing is between resurgence of the COVID-19 epidemic and its human costs, and the ever-shrinking economy and its consequences. However this balancing is done, we need to keep numbers of cases sufficiently low to be able to provide medical care and to be able to manage them with public health approaches, particularly contact tracing and testing.
Models will be one key tool for finding this balance point—whether it be the SEIR (Susceptible-Exposed-Infected-Recovered model) developed by the Colorado team, or another infectious disease model used to inform decision-making. Economic models are also in play that address the consequences for the workforce, government revenues, and more. Our decision-makers also hear from public health experts and economists, and from the many affected sectors. There is also the tolerance of the public for remaining sequestered and enduring the consequences for their lives and futures. Quoting President Trump, our decision-makers are about to “make the biggest decision of my life (their lives).”
In the “new normal”, last week was “normal”. Online classes are smoothly in progress on our three campuses and the numbers of applicants are well above last year’s numbers. Plans for graduation will be announced soon and they will acknowledge the “special class” of 2020. Much of our research continues without pause.
Several weeks ago, I recommended John Barry’s 2004 book, The Great Influenza, which has now reached #5 on The New York Times non-fiction best-seller list. On rereading, I can only strengthen my recommendation and if you can’t take on 400+ pages, listen to this interview with the author.
I co-hosted an online webinar today featuring Beth Carlton, professor in Environmental and Occupational Health at ColoradoSPH, and Rachel Herlihy, Communicable Disease Branch Chief and State Epidemiologist for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment--part of the team involved in our Colorado curve modeling. The webinar maxed out at 1,500 and was filled--we will post the recording on our COVID-19 website as soon as its available and the slides are posted now. Thanks to all who attended. We had more than 60 questions come in and had time to only answer a handful. There are so many questions in this time and we are putting out information as it becomes available. Please check our site and the state websites often.
Jonathan Samet, MD, MS
Dean, Colorado School of Public Health