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CGD in the News

Social distancing can’t last forever. Here’s what should come next. (Vox)

March 26, 2020

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“Know this: Ceaseless social distancing is not the only way to end this outbreak. And President Trump paints a false choice between saving lives and saving the economy. We can find a balance. It’s just that the current orders of social distancing would need to be replaced by a comprehensive, extremely ambitious plan.

Epidemiologists have been telling me about what it would take to end social distancing safely while fighting the spread of Covid-19. It isn’t easy. It will require an immense amount of leadership, coordination, and more sacrifice. It would take a sort of moon-shot-level effort. But the tactics they outline aren’t unfamiliar. They’re textbook epidemiology — they just need to be scaled up to a level never really seen before.

‘We really do need a Manhattan Project effort to get this stuff in place in really a two-or three-month period,’ Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, says.

We need social distancing across the country, and we need to keep it in place for some weeks, if not months, to buy time. If social distancing works, is enacted broadly, and is kept up, the number of new infections could decrease. It would give us a pause in the action, to potentially move on from social distancing to a more targeted pandemic strategy. Right now is the time to get plans ready, so when that pause comes, we can make things right…”

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Senior Policy Fellow