I just read an opinion on Reddit by a doctor (not an epidemiologist or anything like that, though) that an effective curve-flattening social distancing mandate in the United States would have to last for months, like five or six, maybe longer, to really be most effective in saving lives. He pretty much dismissed the economic and social implications of this as not his department, but for the people who would have to enforce such a thing, it very rightly is.
Even with some countries paying most of an employee’s salary to stay home, I don’t see how a half-year or longer shutdown would be tolerated anywhere. Which made me wonder: what’s the maximum governments (both the United States and elsewhere) would be able to maintain quarantine/lockdown/shelter in place conditions currently being done? What is the political and social will to do it again later if it becomes necessary, and how long after the current one would such be feasible? What would governments have to do it make it more feasible?
This crossed my mind when someone repeated the (false) rumor that they were going to announce an 18-month shutdown.
I do not think society would tolerate a shutdown of six months; it’s unlikely the economy could function that long with most people unable to work. Long before that, people would start coming out anyway. Everyone’s different, but after six weeks most people are going to say “the hell with this.”
We are still ramping upward in terms of people’s fear and willingness to place the coronavirus scare at the top of their priority list. But as they get more and more stir crazy, and less and less worried about COVID-19 - esoecially given that for the vasy majority of folks they will be sitting around not getting it and not seeing it - and they will insist on going out.
Small businesses will, unless forced to by law, open up when it’s that or bankruptcy.
There is a point at which people will be willing to accept a degree of risk of getting COVID-19. I think that point’s way before six months.
There are other ways of approaching this through regulation without enduring a total lock down for 6 months.
When gas rationing was implemented in the early 70s, the government immediately imposed an even/odd day assignment for when people could get fuel refills.
The same sort of thing could work for grocery shopping and such, say people whose last names start with A-D can replenish their provisions on Mondays, E-H on Tuesdays, etc. Something like that.
The idea right now is to give experts an opportunity to work out how best to approach the situation over the long haul and buy time to work on a vaccine.
I do fear a day when a certain libertarian-minded segment of the population decides, oh, fuck all you old people, just catch this thing, die and let the rest of us get on with our lives. I can easily imagine this approach becoming acceptable to some.
Implementing a rationing system might give stores a fighting chance of staying stocked, but I’m not entirely sure it would keep the virus from spreading.
As for people getting stir crazy after a few weeks and ‘taking their chances’, well, no one is requiring them to remain locked inside their houses, they are free to roam all they want. The problem is there’s no where to go. What you’d have to do is convince businesses to open back up and take their chances, not with the virus, but with their municipalities. If a city decided to fine places that remain open or not renew their licenses then what?
Having said that, I think, if it’s not resolved by mid-summer, the people will start putting a lot more pressure on the government to figure something out. They’re not going to want their kids to continue missing school and a lot of people will long since have run out of money and will need to go back to work.
In a perfect world, we’ll have a vaccine for this sooner rather than later. Schools can/should implement a zero tolerance* requirement that all returning students must get this vaccine (and maybe the flu vaccine as well) before returning. Employers would have the option but it should be strongly recommended that they require employees to it as well.
*Zero-tolerance, but within reason. If you’re allergic, don’t get it but no more of this autism bs.
You are looking at this (and I hold my nose over Speaking Woke) from a place of privilege. I’m not talking about restaurants not being open, I am talking about people not getting paid for months. For some Americans, that means saying “Gee, I’m going to have to dip into my savings.” For millions more, it means saying “Gee, I’m going to have to die from starvation.”
A very valid concern and should be top of mind for government to address. My hope is that unemployment benefits are extended liberally to all persons laid off through no fault of their own.
However, please understand my post was primarily directed at the effect of quarantine over a lengthy period. I was not trying to solve every serious problem presented by this crisis, only the one posed by the OP.
If you make people stay inside for too long, it’s not going to be a matter of “libertarianism,” it’s going to be a matter of people just valuing getting outside and working so they don’t starve more than protecting themselves from the virus.
The situation is it exists will not be tolerated that long. There will be a critical mass of really pissed off people long before mid-summer.
How much time do you think the “government pays 90% of your lost salary” benefit being initiated by some other countries buys? Note that I’ve only heard about it; I have no idea about practical limits or anything.
An extra month? That kinda money ain’t gonna last long; even governments run out eventually, and money is a representation of wealth. We need food and stuff.
I’m glad you’re doing well, but some people aren’t and the reason isn’t relevant.
Either people are going to go back to work or society’s going to fall apart. Those are your choices. The point at which that decision has to be made is sooner than six months from now. There is a point at which people will be willing to risk COVID-19 and for the overwhelming majority, that point is long before September 18.
How screwed do you think the economy would be if we didn’t shut down and just went about our lives, leading to a predicted 2 to 4 million deaths and 20% of the population at least catching this?
Social distancing is the ONLY solution. We will get as much work done as possible using skeleton crews working far apart, cycled shifts with sanitation in between, and remote work wherever remotely possible. But the economic damage from NOT taking drastic action would be devastating.