Americans are sick of staying at home, and we’re not going to take it anymore.
Implemented early enough, stay-at-home orders have worked to keep the number of cases low. The success of the strategy is obvious enough when comparing states that shutdown versus those that didn’t or didn’t do it soon enough. Now we’re throwing away of the few things that works as people flock to get out of the house.
Pictures across the United States show crowds flocking to public spaces. This is problematic for the obvious reason that we’re very likely to spread the novel coronavirus far and wide. But it’s problematic for a second reason: We will learn nothing from our original shutdown.
Oregon’s done better than most, but the phased reopening here has all the hallmarks of someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing, which is to say the Oregon Health Authority. I am not alone in finding Oregon’s response insufficiently scientific:
Now, however, Oregon is relaxing restrictions meant to prevent transmission in 34 of 36 counties, including Marion County, which has the stateâ€™s highest infection rate. There may be critical problems with this approach. In giving the go-ahead, Gov. Brown said, there is â€œno assured path to both ensuring public health and allowing the economy to recover in the foreseeable future.â€ Then why not institute a more measured, scientific approach;Â lifting one restriction at a timeÂ in several of the least infected counties and evaluating each strategy before taking such broad action?Opinion: Oregonâ€™s rush to reopen leaves scientific caution behind, OregonLive, 24 May 2020.
Washington and Multnomah counties might still be closed, but you think their residents are staying there? No, no they are not. They’re out in other counties at restaurants, bars, salons, and vacation spots. (Just like the rest of re-opened or never closed America.)
So when cases rise againâ€”and they willâ€”how will we know which transmission methods and circumstances were responsible?
Oregonâ€™s blanket approach will also make it more difficult to figure out the reasons for a spike in infections.
When multiple restrictions are altered, there is no way to determine the reason for the outcome if the strategy fails. To understand the path forward, Oregon could first relax stay-at-home orders, allowing people to visit friends and family and frequent outdoor areas â€” all while keeping physical distance. If successful, other restrictions, such as closure of restaurants, bars and gyms, can be eased, while determining success by testing and tracking how quickly the virus is spreading.Opinion: Oregonâ€™s rush to reopen leaves scientific caution behind, OregonLive, 24 May 2020.
In other words, we’re throwing away part of the sacrifice we’ve just made. So be prepared to make that sacrifice again.