The Scientist Who Stopped Ebola Says We Could Stop Coronavirus in the U.S. with a Five-Week National Lockdown

March 23, 2020

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As we enter another week of social distancing while coronavirus continues to spread rapidly, one of the biggest questions everyone is asking is: How do we stop this thing? Yaneer Bar-Yam is a physicist, pandemic expert, and he came up with the strategy that helped stop the spread of Ebola in West Africa in 2014. He says the, quote, "fastest and even the only way" to contain coronavirus in the U.S. would be a five-week national lockdown. He says that closing down schools, movie theaters, and bars are a good start. But while some people are social distancing, not everyone's taking it seriously enough. So to stop the virus, we'd need everyone to stay home except for food, medical supplies, and work that's required to keep society going. We'd need to ban travel. And the government would have to step in to give aid to people who can't make money. He says that if we were to do that, by the fifth week, the number of people getting the virus would be a small fraction of what they are now. Plus, the lockdown would give us time to scale up our number of tests, process them, and start properly quarantining people with the virus. And while a five-week lockdown would have major ramifications for the economy and our way of life, without it, the number of cases is just going to keep going up exponentially and our medical system will not be able to handle it.

But will it happen? Unfortunately, it doesn't look like we're anywhere close to that point yet. Some states have begun more aggressive lockdowns, but it's not happening everywhere, plus, people actually have to follow the lockdowns for them to work. The U.S. now has more than 33,000 confirmed cases, but if we had more tests available, the number would be higher. Los Angeles County has even stopped testing people for coronavirus unless the test could impact their treatment. The bottom line is: We need to do something big, and we need to do it now. The U.S. was not prepared with proper testing, supplies, or containment measures. We'll discuss why that happened and why reports and warnings were ignored for generations to come. But for now, we're on the trajectory of Italy, where new cases and deaths continue to climb rapidly and a doctor says they've stopped putting people over 60 on respirators. And a big reason is because people are breaking the lockdown rules.