All of Italy is on lockdown. Colombia is under a nationwide quarantine. New Yorkers, Californians, and other Americans have been asked to stay home. There have been more than 234,000 cases of coronavirus detected so far around the world.
And yet, there are people flouting this new way of life, partying on Florida beaches and incorrectly opining that government reactions have been overblown.
A Chicago epidemiologist succinctly explained why those people are wrong on Friday during a news conference describing that city’s response to the pandemic. By Saturday, Illinois issued a stay-at-home order.
“This is the only way forward. This virus is unforgiving. It spreads before you even know you caught it, and it tricks you into believing that it’s nothing more than a little influenza,” said Dr. Emily Landon, who directs infection prevention and control at University of Chicago Medicine.
She described stretched-thin hospitals without enough masks for nurses and a world in which those who have mild cases and thwart quarantine and social distancing requests tear down our already shaky support system.
“Without taking drastic measures, the healthy and optimistic among us will doom the vulnerable.”
Before taking the dais, Landon said she hadn’t left her home in days, leading efforts in emergency planning from there. She has kept her son home as well, skipping sports games and a bake sale.
“There’s no vaccine or readily available anti-viral to help stem the tide. All we have to slow the spread is distance, social distance. And if we let every single patient with this infection infect three more people and then each of them infect two or three more people, there won’t be a hospital bed when my mother can’t breathe very well or when yours is coughing too much.”
Staying home and streaming your favorite TV show rather than going out can help more than you think.
“These extreme restrictions may seem in the end a little anti-climactic. Because it’s really hard to feel like you’re saving the world when you’re watching Netflix from your couch. But if we do this right, nothing happens,” Landon said. “A successful shelter-in-place means that you’re going to feel like it was all for nothing, and you’d be right. Because nothing means that nothing happened to your family. And that’s what we’re going for here.”
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