Lockdown Delays Meant Lives Lost

People sit in social distancing circles at Dolores Park on May 20, 2020 in San Francisco. Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
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People sit in social distancing circles at Dolores Park on May 20, 2020 in San Francisco. Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

36,000 deaths could have been averted had the US launched social distancing measures on March 8 instead of March 15, according to Columbia University researchers’ estimates that haven’t yet been peer reviewed. 

And if lockdowns and other efforts had begun on March 1, 54,000 deaths would not have happened by May 3, according to modeling by epidemiologist Jeffrey Shaman and his team, The New York Times reports.

“It’s a big, big difference. That small moment in time, catching it in that growth phase, is incredibly critical in reducing the number of deaths,” Shaman said. 

The Takeaway: Officials need to act fast as hotspots emerge in reopening states. 

This is especially relevant as the number of cases appear to be rising sharply in North Carolina, North Dakota, Arkansas and other states, Axios reports. The numbers are worrisome even when increased testing access is accounted for.

Another delayed decision early in the US outbreak likely made things worse, CNN reports. The White House waited a week to move on CDC officials’ recommendations for a global air travelers about the dangers of flying. At the time, 66,000 travelers from Europe were flying into the US every day. 

The delay is emblematic of the CDC’s sidelined status, which pushed a half dozen midlevel CDC officials to tell CNN the White House is making decisions based on politics rather than science.

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