On March 16, the White House issued “15 Days to Slow the Spread” guidelines.
On March 28, Governor Gina Raimondo issues a stay-at-home order for Rhode Island.
At that time, the IHME’s model projected 100,000-240,000 deaths from COVID-19.
At that time, the goal of the lockdown was to “flatten the curve” of the disease so as to not overwhelm our hospitals with cases. Note, critically, that reducing the overall number of cases was NOT part of this goal but simply to spread them out.
Since March 28, the IHME’s projections have collapsed and the new projection for COVID fatalities is 60,000.
Since March 28, the results of numerous COVID-19 anti-body surveys have come in.
Los Angeles County; results just in yesterday.
They unanimously point to COVID-19 being far more infectious and, therefore, far less deadly than originally feared.
Since March 28, we have seen that no hospitals in the United States have been overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases and, in fact, that the biggest threat to hospitals has been the lockdown itself.
All of these are positive, welcome developments. Most importantly, the goal has been achieved: the curve has been flattened. The fact that it happened, in part, due to a bad projection does not in any way invalidate this important achievement.
Accordingly, with the goal achieved, the lockdown can end. Now.
I appreciate Governor Raimondo’s concern for Rhode Island and do not doubt that many of the steps she took to fight the spread of the virus arose out of a genuine reflex of protectiveness for its residents. Her original goal for the lockdown of not overwhelming hospital bed capacity for COVID 19 was correct and is well on the road to being achieved. Now, with this big wave of positive new information and data, she can and must pivot to protectiveness of Rhode Islanders on much broader scale and open the economy. Now; not on May 8 and certainly not on this timeframe:
“I predict four, six, nine months from now, when we are back to work a bit more, living our lives a bit more, you will be able to see that Rhode Island has stayed at the cutting edge,” she said.
We don’t have “four, six, nine months” to re-open the state’s economy. More to the point, there is no need to do so. As the threat and trajectory of the disease is now far less dire, the need for a draconian and damaging lockdown has evaporated.
Congratulations to Governor Raimondo. She successfully achieved her original goal. Now she can move on to the next phase and her next achievement, which is swiftly putting Rhode Island’s economy back into gear.