Imagine you are in a small boat far, far from shore. A surprise storm capsizes the boat and tosses you into the sea. You try to tame your panic, somehow find the boat’s flimsy but still floating life raft, and struggle into it. You catch your breath, look around, and try to think what to do next. Thinking clearly is hard to do after a near-drowning experience.

You do, though, realize two important things: First, the raft is saving your life for the moment and you need to stay in it until you have a better plan. Second, the raft is not a viable long-term option and you need to get to land.

In April 2020, the storm is the Covid-19 pandemic, the life raft is the combination of intense measures we are using to slow the spread of the virus, and dry land is the end to the pandemic.

The U.S. is still in the clambering-into-the-life-raft phase of responding to Covid-19, and thinking clearly about what to do is still difficult. This confusion has made it hard to appreciate two facts: One is that social distancing combined with scaling up testing, production of medical equipment, and other countermeasures are essential and must be replicated across the country, intensified, and continued. The other is that if these measures have the desired effect of reducing the number of new cases accumulating each day, they provide only a temporary solution.


Image by David Mark from Pixabay

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