We are at a point in this pandemic when things simultaneously seem to be getting better and worse. By late-May, most American states will have begun to re-open their economies by at least a tiny degree, yet virus forecasting for the next several months does not promise smooth sailing. At this juncture, it can seem that one’s outlook on the pandemic can go in completely different directions depending on the media that you consume. I find this to be interesting, so I have looked through a few different news articles concerning the coronavirus to map out a “Best,” “Medium,” and “Worst” case scenario based on current and planned policies.
“Best” Case Scenario
On the road to recovery.
- TheAdvertiser.com. When asked about plans to reopen the Louisiana State University campus in the fall, university president responded: “Are we going to be open in the fall? We are absolutely planning on being open in the fall. We need to get back to business, but we need to get back to business safely.” Some LSU staff will be returning to campus as early as May 18th. Other area schools including Grambling State University and Louisiana Tech University are stated to be re-opening campuses for the fall semester as well.
- Government of Florida. The Florida governor outlined a phased re-opening with many compelling statistics that point toward a decline in the rate of infection in the state. While Florida is doing what it must to protect vulnerable people and the healthcare system, it is pushing ahead to allow some business operations to continue, noting that the re-opening process “does not need to take months. It will be based in our health metrics and guided by medical authorities.”
“Medium” Case Scenario
The worst is behind us, but we’re not out of the woods yet.
- News@Northeastern. While many universities choose to remain tight-lipped about their plans for the fall, Northeastern University in Boston has moved forward and announced its intention to re-open campus, but is also allowing for many online course options. In accordance with CDC guidelines, the university assures that it will implement social distancing policies, including expanding on-campus housing (taking over hotel rooms and other venues to decrease population density), and implementing large-scale testing and contact tracing.
- New York Times. The coronavirus will be with us for quite some time, but the intensity of the pandemic will vary with geographic location. This NYT article is prudent in its judgement, but details three different trajectory scenarios: 1. There will be peaks and valleys of infection no worse than what we have recently experienced, 2. A larger peak will hit in the fall and then smaller peaks will ensue, and 3. This spring was our intense peak and then there will be less pronounced ups and downs. Whichever way the pandemic turns, the effects will likely be felt in some form until 2022.
“Worst” Case Scenario
Things will get way worse before they get better.
- CNN. In a recent report, experts predicted that the virus is likely to persist for 18 – 24 months, until 60% to 70% of the population has been infected. The source estimates this timeframe as the duration needed to reach ‘herd immunity.’
- Los Feliz Ledger. The Chancellor of California State University announced that classes will take place mainly online in the fall, citing grim predictions of the virus as a prime factor.
- New York Times. More are expected to die as states take steps to re-open. According to this NYT article, an internal Trump administration report predicts about 200,000 cases daily of the virus by June 2020 (yikes!).
Even in the most optimistic of predictions, experts caution that extreme care is necessary to move forward. If you’re thinking about planning a big end-of-the-summer trip (because we all need a vacation, right!?), perhaps, it is worth considering that we are likely not at the tail end of this pandemic. Even if we have a vaccine (which does not seem to be an immediate option), we will not be home free. Viruses have a nasty track record of mutating, and vaccines, unfortunately, do not guarantee immunity (or even offer protection for some individuals).
Without clear guidance on what is to come, it can be hard to move forward. If you think the situation is bad now, remember that during the 1918 pandemic there was no Zoom or social media (or women’s suffrage or basic civil rights for minorities, or even sliced bread). However, even in the worst of times, we can still foster togetherness online and support the social-distancing policies that are vital to bringing an end to the pandemic.
Wishing you (as I so often do), Dear Reader, good health and happiness.