The following is speculation, not backed by references citations, since I’m writing this for fun.
First, we call this thing “coronavirus”, but it’s just a type. The common cold and influenza are coronaviruses. The virus’ name is SARS-COV-19, actually a type of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that results in the illness COVID-19. We’ve seen a couple strains of COVID-19, so we add the + at the end. This disease will probably become an annual occurrence with new strains every winter.
World leaders have to make difficult decisions to balance protecting the population versus saving the economy. China and other Eastern countries are in near-total quarantine. The US and Western countries have a hard time enforcing quarantine because our political philosophy and our populations’ stubbornness from listening to authority.
So in Asian countries you have very flattened curves and in the US, less flattened curves, the former enforce by national governments and the latter enforced by state governments and companies. It’s fine — just two different ways of thinking. One believes governments are effective at central planning, and the other doesn’t.
There’s a problem with heavily flattened curves. First, as new cases and then existing cases go to zero, when people are released from quarantine, folks who have been isolated now catch the illness. The governments have to decide whether to repeat quarantine measures. This could repeat over and over again for over a year, by which new strains will emerge.
There are so many negative ramifications from quarantine. Lack of social contact and home isolation lead to significantly decreased mental, physical, and emotional health. We’re lucky that telecommunications are the way they are, that many folks can still work and earn money. Most can’t, which is why federal governments need to give sustenance in the form of checks to individuals. Later we’ll have to bail out businesses.
If periods of isolation last too long, economic damage will be to the point that no government can afford to bail out. This is a severe national security problem. Probably the defining one of our age. If China recovers much faster than the US, it’s possible they could overtake us economically faster than anyone had ever planned.
Originally the US’ leaders didn’t take COVID-19+ seriously. Unspoken, the annual flu has been one of the leading causes of death in the US for years, mostly affecting the elderly. We didn’t want people to panic and hurt themselves, nor did we want the stock market to crash. Both have happened, and we couldn’t have prevented it. So we have to play between taking serious steps or not.
If we quarantine too hard, our economy and national security will suffer. But not enforcing measures will suffer in some deaths. How much are we willing to accept? Part of the solution has to be expanding our health care systems to take on more sick patients at a time — more providers, more ventilators, more tests, and some type of therapy, cure, or vaccine. Vaccines normally take a couple years.
One more note. We expect stock market crashes every decade or so. The one we have just suffered was very overdue. It is still going to be a while before we recover, but it’s entirely likely to recover well before November elections. Most political changovers happen as a result of market crashes when it is perceived that politicians aren’t handling the economy well. But this crash was a result of a black swan, and most Americans are blaming China rather than US leadership. I think this means if elections were today, Trump and Republicans would win on massive terms.
But there’s still much more to come from this pandemic. The number of total cases doesn’t really matter as much as total deaths and whether any notable figures die.
My view — everyone has to catch and endured this virus eventually. We need to flatten the curve slightly and get most folks back to work quickly. Economies worldwide are getting shaken up, and this will teach folks a few things — who is valuable at their companies and organizations, how important electronic connectivity is, how ridiculous it is to force everyone to come into work every day. Some folks are enjoying the sunshine more, while others are being forced into harder work than they’ve ever experienced due to back to back to back scheduled teleconferences.
Just some assorted thoughts.