What is the coronavirus strategy?

By Kevin Roche

This is my question of the day, amidst all the gnashing of teeth around the rise in cases in certain states. The initial strategy was close everything down and tell people to stay at home so that we minimize cases and buy time to build up our capability to handle whatever number of serious cases we have. Sounds reasonable til you look at a place like New York City.  Hard to imagine how it could have been a whole lot worse.  And somehow all the lockdowns didn’t keep hospitalizations and deaths among the frail elderly from happening, Minnesota being a prime example of that. So if that was the strategy, I am not sure how well it was executed versus what might have happened anyway. But let us take it at face value.  Everyone now claims we are prepared, we bought our time.

photo by Geralt

So now what is the strategy, freak out every time cases rise and go back into lockdown mode? We have clearly done enormous economic damage to our country and especially to low-income and minority workers and business owners. We have done substantial health damage to our citizens, as the lockdowns have caused increasing numbers of deaths and exacerbations of illness. I will post on that shortly. So I assume now that this isn’t just a speculative result of the lockdowns, there may be more concern about balancing the good and the bad of various mitigation tactics.

Are we willing to see some spread of cases, within certain boundaries?  If so, why, and what are the boundaries? Are we just trying to limp along until there is a vaccine or some miraculous therapeutic? Are we hoping that maybe some combination of factors will lead to population immunity or the virus will peter out on its own? I have no idea what the strategy is on either the national or the state level. In Minnesota we just seem relieved that our deaths have dropped a fair amount, especially among the long-term care population, although we don’t seem to know why. It isn’t lockdowns, as we know from comparing our experience to Wisconsin’s.

It would be reassuring to the population to have that clarity, to see an enunciation of here is the strategy and here is how we are measuring our progress against that plan. And it would be even nicer in a democracy if that plan was agreed upon by the legislature and presented to the governor after receiving his or her input, rather than dictated by one individual. But I am not really expecting anything like that. Everything is too political, it is too easy to just kind of wing it day-by-day. So we are left to just wonder, what is the plan?