Americans Are Underestimating Duration Of Coronavirus Crisis, Experts Say

by Quinn Wittman

Public health experts are increasingly worried that Americans are underestimating how long the coronavirus pandemic will disrupt everyday life in the country, warning that the Trump administration’s timelines are offering many a false sense of comfort.

“Decisions to reopen society should not be about a date, but about the data,” Frieden, now president and CEO of the global public health initiative Resolve to Save Lives, said during a briefing Wednesday for journalists.

“If we want to be able to – as I think we need to – turn our economy back on in a safe way, we need to be able to do that sort of thing at scale,” Konyndyk said.

Public health experts have said the near-term goal is to flatten the epidemic curve of new cases.

Michael Mina, an infectious diseases epidemiologist at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said the United States squandered a chance to prevent the virus from taking off here and now must do what it takes to beat it back.

Still, experts are worried that if the current measures work, success could have a paradoxical downside: People who are still vulnerable to the virus will see the risk as over, leaving open the possibility of resurgent spread. “Success is we have a lot of susceptible people left against a disease for which there is still not effective or proven treatment and no vaccine – and won’t be for some time,” Konyndyk said.

Others have suggested people in high-risk groups – those over 65 or 70 and people with chronic conditions – may need to practice physical distancing even after restrictions have loosened for others, at least until the vaccine is ready.