COVID:19- Taking Our Foot Off The Brake

Today is April 22, 2020. Spring is starting to take hold in southeastern Pennsylvania. It is sunny outside, and the birds are chirping.

Yesterday, 25,985 more Americans were diagnosed with COVID-19 (for a total of 818,744) and 2,804 Americans died from COVID-19 (for a total of 45,318). (data from

Another day when more Americans died from COVID-19 that the total who died in Pearl Harbor. And no one I know said a thing about it.

I started tracking doubling times on March 28, 2020 (25 days ago). In 25 days, the U.S. has experienced a growth from 105,000 infections to 840,000 infections (we will pass 840,000 later today), and an increase in deaths from 1,717 to 45,318.

So what, you ask? The “so what” is that those increases happened under our Best Case Scenario. We implemented Stay At Home orders, social isolations, and quarantining, at least in the 75% of the United States that believes in science.

But in the past week, we have gotten bored with social distancing and staying at home. As a country (or at least the 47% that voted for the current president), we are deciding that staying at home isn’t much fun, it isn’t that important, and that collectively we would all be better off if we went back to the way things were before. But I have an unpleasant truth to share with you:

There is no going back to the way things were before.

We have no treatment for this disease.
We have no prevention (vaccine) for this disease.
We do not have a testing program in place (we only test those who are symptomatic, and we are behind in that effort). What about those who are not symptomatic, but may be carriers? Everyone must be tested-everyone-and we aren’t close to being able to do that.
We do not have protective equipment for healthcare providers, and we don’t have masks for every person in this country. Until those conditions are met, there is no going back to the way it was. What trying to “go back to normal” will do is accelerate this Doubling Chart.

In the next few days, several states are opening up again, and relaxing their social distancing and isolation guidelines. In essence, they are “taking their foot off the brake”. When they do that, the number of infections, and the number of fatalities, will increase again.

Take a look at the Doubling Chart again. Ask yourself: how many more doublings can the United States tolerate in the next 2-3 months?


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