Does COVID-19 mortality data justify extending the lockdown?

With so many states preparing to reopen now a new worry has come that reopening too soon will result in a second or third wave of infections that will possibly call for a second lockdown. There is furthermore the risk that people may fear patronizing businesses and a second recession may blow out if this happen.

It is quite logical for businesses to fear that second and new waves of infections may prevent them from attracting customers. But businesses are already facing that risk no matter when they open. Extending the lockdown is merely pushing the inevitable to a later date. Opening sooner will give businesses the time to adjust to social distancing rules and therefore gradually phase their operations before more permanent damage is done.

What states need to do is review whether extending the lockdown provides extra benefit worth the economic damage being imposed for businesses. And for most states, the answer is no; extending the lockdown will not make a big difference. This is possibly because the lockdown has already achieved the purpose of buying us time so that the healthcare system will not be overwhelmed.

The lockdown will not eradicate the virus, Only radical testing will control the outbreak

In the very beginning, the lockdown was put in place in order to make sure that transmissions do not occur rapidly enough to overwhelm our healthcare system. But currently people are pushing for the lockdown to be extended just until the virus is eradicated or a vaccine is found.

But according to Dr Fauci, who is the country’s leading expert on infectious diseases, the virus may stay with us for a while, and the only thing that will help prevent the spread down is radical testing. Dr Fauci said the following about the virus;

It is so transmissible, and it is so widespread throughout the world, that even if our infections get well controlled and go down dramatically during the summer, there is virtually no chance it will be eradicated.

In other words, enough testing to test everybody that needs to be tested. Enough testing so that when someone gets infected, you could immediately do contact tracing and isolation to prevent the infection from going to a couple of infections to hundreds of infections. That’s how you control an outbreak.

Deaths are more concentrated among the elderly 

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention as of May 6, 44,016 people had died from the corona virus. But people over the age 75 made up more than 50% of all these deaths. The mortality rate among people aged 25 to 54, who make up a huge proportion of the labor force, is quite low.

Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Minnesota as of current has had a total of 591 deaths from the virus. The demographics are the same for the state

Of the deaths announced Monday, six people were in their 90s, two people were in their 80s, one person was in their 70s, three people were in their 60s and one person was in their 50s. Nine of the people were residents of Hennepin County and two lived in Ramsey County. One resident of Rice County and one resident of Stearns county also died.

Nine of the 13 people who died were living in long-term care or assisted living facilities. So far, 472 of the 591 Minnesotans who have died of COVID-19 were residents of long-term care or assisted living facilities. The current death toll only includes Minnesotans with lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 tests.

Given the fact that most of Covid-19 deaths are among a specific demographic, it makes sense to focus isolation efforts on the more vulnerable groups while allowing businesses to open. Continuing with the current system in place does not provide extra protection to the most vulnerable groups. What we will end up having therefore is more permanent economic damage and increasing covid-19 deaths. Both of which could be prevented with more targeted efforts and expanded testing.