Here’s How Scientists and Public-Health Experts Recommend the U.S. Gets Back to ‘Normal’

There is both promise and peril in being a pioneer, and the people of Hokkaido have learned both lessons well over the past few months. After infections of COVID-19 on the Japanese island exploded following its annual winter festival this year, officials in February declared a state of emergency to control the disease. Soon after, new daily cases plummeted, and Hokkaido’s quick action was heralded as a beacon for the rest of Japan to follow.

But it wasn’t just infections that dropped; over the next month, agriculture and tourism business also dried up, and Hokkaido’s governor decided to ease social restrictions. However, compliance with limits on social interaction after weeks of sequestering was harder this time around. Within a month, Hokkaido’s new COVID-19 infections jumped by 80%, and the governor had to reinstate lockdown policies.

There are similar stories from Singapore, Hong Kong and Germany, and all serve as sobering lessons for the decision-makers in the U.S. who are under increasing pressure to reopen the country to reactivate its stalled economy. The tension is built into the pandemic: while public-health metrics all point toward extended social isolation and a more gradual reopening of society, the decisions are made by politicians. Already, some state governors are allowing businesses such as nail salons, barbershops and gyms to reopen to prevent bankruptcies and economic ruin.

How to proceed? The U.S. urgently needs to restart, but no economy can function if an infectious disease like COVID-19 continues to sicken the workforce and keep customers to a trickle. More than a million Americans have had the disease, but it is not yet known whether recovering can provide lasting, or any, immunity. Which means much of the country’s nearly 330 million people remain at risk for infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the illness, in a too-sudden return to normal.

“Even in the hardest-hit places [in the U.S.], fewer than 1 in 10 people have been infected. So not only could COVID-19 come roaring back, but it could get five times or close to 10 times worse than it is now,” says Dr. Tom Frieden, president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives and former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “The only way forward is to suppress cases and clusters of cases rapidly.”

Under President Trump’s guidelines for Opening Up America Again, states would move through three phases of gradually loosening social restrictions. The threshold for entering each stage toward normality is declines in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the previous 14 days. Gyms, movie theaters and sports stadiums would be the first to reopen, although people would have to remain 6 ft. from one another and avoid intimate gatherings of more than 10.

Next, schools and bars could reopen with limitations, and finally, if cases continued to decline, most people could return to work. Health experts warn, however, that the return to normality can’t be only a straight progression–if cases start to inch upward, then social distancing and shelter-in-place directives will have to be renewed.

The only way to calibrate those decisions is to know where the new infections are. When it comes to conquering an infectious disease, the adage “know your enemy” is remarkably apt. Or, even more important, know where your enemy is. Tracking an invisible virus is the key to controlling it, and the quickest and most reliable strategy for that is to build a robust system to test anyone who might be infected.

For the U.S. to reopen its economy, “We’re going to have to find those people who are infected, and not just wait for them to come to us,” says Barry Bloom, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “The bottom line is, it’s testing, testing, testing–so we know where the epidemic is before we can relax any stringencies in a stepwise fashion.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, tells TIME, “We must have in place the capability that when we do start to see cases come back–and I’ll guarantee you that they will–to identify by testing, [and then] isolate and contact-trace to get people out of circulation who are infected.”

It may take tens of millions of tests per week to do that, and the problem is the U.S.’s testing capacity may not be ready yet. “There is absolutely no way on earth, on this planet or any other planet, that we can do 20 million tests a day, or even 5 million tests a day,” says Admiral Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health who is overseeing the government’s testing response.


Widespread testing can yank away the curtain that hides SARS-CoV-2, revealing where there are clusters of people who are infected by the virus but not showing symptoms, and thus aren’t aware they might be spreading it to others. That, in turn, will lead to more targeted efforts to isolate anyone who is infectious. And, if all the people who came in contact with an infected person were also tested, it would help local health authorities trace how the virus is moving through a community. It’s basic, boots-on-the-ground disease control.

The U.S., however, stumbled on testing in the early days of the pandemic, and those failures led to a dramatic surge in cases that climbed more quickly than in other countries. Thanks to a combination of contamination issues that delayed the original test from the CDC, and regulatory requirements that prevented commercial and academic labs from immediately developing their own assays, “It’s still the case that testing isn’t nearly as readily available as it needs to be,” says Frieden. As of this writing, just over 1 million tests for COVID-19 are performed in the U.S. each week, which is woefully inadequate, Fauci says.

Public-health experts estimate that the current U.S. testing rate has to triple simply to include all the people who are considered highest priority for testing, including health care workers and nursing-home residents. To fold in all of those who should be tested if gyms and restaurants reopen, the number of daily tests has to increase by tens of millions.

Ideally, anyone with symptoms like a cough, fever or shortness of breath should be tested, as should anyone who is sick and living in a group facility like a dormitory, along with any patient admitted to a hospital for any reason. Family members and others with close contact to someone who tests positive should also be tested.

Boosting testing volume is about not just manufacturing more tests but also ensuring that they’re relatively easy to take. So at-home testing kits that are just becoming available–which still require a doctor’s prescription but won’t require people to go to a doctor’s office or health facility to provide a sample–will become more critical as states gradually reopen.

Several companies are also offering COVID-19 tests, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that don’t require doctors or patients to sample from deep in the back of the nose and throat, but instead swab the inside of the nostrils or provide a small amount of saliva, making it easier even for non–health professionals to provide samples.

While testing capacity in the U.S. is gaining ground, the road ahead remains long. The health system has never had to manage testing at the scale needed to control this pandemic, and doing so may require equally unprecedented solutions. Anticipating that the gap between testing need and testing capacity will only yawn wider as states reopen, the Rockefeller Foundation, for example, has proposed a coordinated regional command system for testing that would track and redirect supplies to where they are needed.

The foundation’s action plan, backed by a $15 million initial investment, also calls for engaging hundreds, even thousands, of smaller labs that currently don’t perform tests for the public. So far, leaders from California and five U.S. cities are working to implement the plan and increase access to testing. (The foundation sponsored a recent TIME 100 Talk.)


Once testing at scale is in place, local trends should dictate when and how a particular region might begin to emerge from self-isolation. Loosening of social-distancing policies won’t happen universally across the nation, since the burden of disease is vastly different from New York to Nevada. Each region–whether defined as a community, a state or a group of states–will have to make customized decisions about releasing its residents in phases based on its specific disease trajectory as well as its population density, among other factors.

There are, however, some universal benchmarks. Bloom and others believe new daily cases, identified by wide-scale testing, would have to fall consistently in a given region for at least two weeks before leaders can start discussing reopening businesses and schools. At that point, health experts would investigate where the new cases are. If they’re confined to local and sporadic clusters, that’s a sign that the virus’s circle of transmission is limited and potentially shrinking.

Such scenarios would mean not that the virus is necessarily going away, but that the local health system is in a decent position to manage the load of people who get infected. “We are not just staying home in the magical belief that the virus is going to go away,” says Frieden. “We are staying home so we can strengthen the health care and public-health systems.” The idea isn’t to eradicate coronavirus completely–at least not yet–but to bring its spread to manageable levels.

As flare-ups occur, they can be doused with another critical contagion-fighting public-health technique: contact tracing. It doesn’t help to know who is infected if you’re not also investigating who else that person might have infected. In a study conducted in Shenzhen, China, researchers found that tracing contacts of people who tested positive helped reduce the time it took to isolate those who were infectious by nearly half.

Few riders are seen on the U-Bahn in Berlin in March 2020

Few riders are seen on the U-Bahn in Berlin in March 2020
Anja Lehmann—VISUM/Redux

This is the foundation of infectious-disease containment, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Google and Apple are collaborating on a digital solution to contact-trace at scale using smartphone and search data, but concerns about privacy remain. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has formed a partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the nonprofit Vital Strategies to build a first-of-its-kind training program to teach and certify contact tracers.

The program will rely on call centers, digital technology and historical best practices to identify the contacts of people who are infected, track their whereabouts and the contacts of those contacts–and then educate those who need to self-isolate about how best to do that to protect the public’s health.


Testing, isolation and contact tracing, however, are all essentially a backup plan for fighting an infectious virus like SARS-CoV-2. The only way to ensure that the virus won’t burn through a global population again is to build a better defense. And the most impenetrable fortress against a virus is immunity, gained–at the individual level–either by becoming infected and recovering or by getting vaccinated. “It doesn’t matter how much virus is out there, if people aren’t susceptible to getting it, then the virus will go away,” says Lisa Lee, associate vice president for research and innovation at Virginia Tech. Smallpox, for example, was eradicated thanks to immunization.

The goal is herd immunity: when nearly every person around the world develops these protections, the “herd” is able to protect the few, such as newborns, who aren’t protected or cannot be vaccinated. At this point, it is unclear if the human body naturally develops any after recovering from COVID-19. So as researchers work to figure that out, they are also racing to develop a vaccine. But although there are a variety of vaccine candidates in development and testing, it will likely take at least 12 months before the first people can be inoculated against SARS-CoV-2.

Without widespread immunity, public-health officials can only keep a close watch on new cases as they pop up, and suppress them so they don’t morph into widespread outbreaks. Which means that until the population at large is protected, some amount of social distancing will become a routine part of our lives.

Even if a region shows all the right numbers–declining curves of new COVID-19 cases, fewer deaths and more hospital discharges than admissions–that doesn’t mean restaurants, sports arenas, shopping centers and workplaces should go back to the status quo. “Locking down isn’t just to lock down,” says Fauci. “It’s to give you time so that when you open up again, you can come out swinging … when the virus rears its head, you have the capability to identify, isolate and contact-trace and snuff it down before [cases turn into] outbreaks.”


Especially in hard-hit, densely populated areas like New York City, at minimum, everyone might need to wear face masks in public to prevent the spread of virus-containing respiratory particles; public-transit riders may not be sitting shoulder to shoulder; diners at restaurants might need to be seated 6 ft. apart; and we might significantly cut back on physical contact. “This may turn out to be the death of the handshake,” says Dr. Hilary Babcock, an infectious-disease specialist at Washington University School of Medicine.

Accepting these changes to daily life is accepting the reality that emerging from this pandemic won’t be like flipping a switch. “This is a public-health emergency, and only public health is going to get us out of this,” says Frieden. “The economy, and society, depend on public health getting this right.” And that means not just testing and identifying people who are infected, along with their contacts, but rethinking how self-isolation fits into broader policy decisions. The massive quarantine of these past few months was unprecedented, but more limited isolation, on a case-by-case or family-by-family basis, may become the norm for at least a while.

And public-health officials may have to work with local community leaders to accommodate more formal, structured ways to self-isolate in order to effectively balance the public good of such measures with the rights and dignity of individuals. For example, Frieden says, “we should be offering voluntary isolation for every person infected,” in the form of designated hotels or living quarters to support people who cannot stay in their current homes without putting others at risk.

These, of course, won’t be the only new ubiquities in a post-COVID-19 world. Microbial threats like coronaviruses will inevitably move from the bottom to the top of public-health priority lists, and the dangers of infectious diseases will loom larger in our collective conscious. They will have to, if we have any hope of avoiding further drastic lockdowns and forever changing the way we interact with each other.

By Alice Park April 30, 2020 6:15 AM EDT

Source: Here’s How Scientists and Public-Health Experts Recommend the U.S. Gets Back to ‘Normal’

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From the US to Europe and Asia, many countries are looking to ease COVID-19 lockdowns and restart their economies. However, there have been warnings of a second wave of infections. Dr Ramanan Laxminarayan from The Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy shared his thoughts on the challenges of lifting restrictions and the various types of COVID-19 tests. Subscribe to our channel here: Subscribe to our news service on Telegram: Follow us: CNA: CNA Lifestyle: Facebook: Instagram:… Twitter:

The Economy Shrank 4.8% Last Quarter—The Biggest Contraction Since 2009—But The Worst Is Still To Come

U.S. gross domestic product—a measure of the value of all the goods and services produced by the economy—declined 4.8% in the first three months of 2020, according to data released by the Commerce Department; this is the worst quarterly decline in a decade, but experts agree that the numbers haven’t even begun to reflect the scope of the economic damage caused by the coronavirus.


The sharp contraction in GDP reflects the economic toll that measures intended to contain the coronavirus, like social distancing, layoffs, and business closures, have taken on the American economy.

Economic output hasn’t shrunk at all since the beginning of 2014, when it fell 1.1%, and there hasn’t been a drop this steep since the height of the Great Recession in 2009.

After an 11-year period of strong economic performance, temporary unemployment claims ballooned to more than 26 million in a matter of weeks as the coronavirus crisis took hold.

Experts were predicting a contraction of about 4% for the first quarter, and there is widespread consensus that next quarter’s numbers will be even more dire.

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that GDP growth will plunge a jaw-dropping 40% in the second quarter from the same time last year; the CBO also predicts that growth will slow 11.8% from the first quarter, which would be the biggest loss since the Commerce Department began tracking GDP data in 1947.

Crucial quote

“Prior to the coronavirus shock, the economy was doing relatively well,” Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist for Oxford Economics, told NPR. “The shock that we experienced in the second half of March actually has led to a sudden stop in spending on a lot of services and even spending on some goods.” Unfortunately, Daco said, that shock is “only the tip of the iceberg.”

Big Number

$3.7 trillion. That’s how high the Congressional Budget Office expects the federal budget deficit will be by the end of the current fiscal year after a month of historic government spending on emergency rescue initiatives like the CARES Act.

What to watch for

Officials from the Federal Reserve will conclude a two-day meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Over the last month, the Fed has rewritten its playbook and made unprecedented interventions to prop up the economy. It’s announced new emergency initiatives worth trillions of dollars, including programs that will extend its reach to small and midsize businesses, as well as state and municipal governments—both unprecedented interventions into markets the Fed has historically avoided. It also cut rates to nearly zero, stepped in to backstop a $350 billion emergency small business loan program administered by the Small Business Administration, and purchased billions of dollars’ worth of government debt and mortgage-backed securities. More action is expected this afternoon.

Further reading

Federal Budget Deficit Will Approach $4 Trillion In 2020, CBO Says, As The Economy Continues To Nosedive (Forbes)

The Fed Will Pump Another $2.3 Trillion Into The Economy. Here’s Why This Time Is Different (Forbes)

Another 4.4 Million Workers File Unemployment Claims As Coronavirus Labor Crisis Deepens (Forbes)

Another Small Business Headache: Some Employees Are Asking To Be Laid Off Thanks To Higher Unemployment Benefits (Forbes)

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I’m a breaking news reporter for Forbes focusing on capital markets and finance. I completed my master’s degree in business and economic reporting at New York University. Before becoming a journalist, I worked as a paralegal specializing in corporate compliance.

Source: The Economy Shrank 4.8% Last Quarter—The Biggest Contraction Since 2009—But The Worst Is Still To Come

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The U.S. economy contracted to start the year… for the first time in three years. The commerce department says gross domestic product contracted at an annual rate of one percent in the first quarter. The government’s initial estimate was of 0-point-one percent quarterly growth. However, experts say it’s only a temporary setback in the long road to recovery. They forecast a robust rebound in the second quarter, fueled by strong demand. Some economists said they are optimistic that growth will remain above 3 percent in the second half of this year… as labor market conditions are improving and consumer spending is picking up.

Flight Attendants Warn: The Airlines Need To Stop Flying Now

Should the airlines stop flying during the coronavirus pandemic? America’s flight attendants think so. In recent days, scenes of packed airplanes with passengers not wearing masks have made the news. And while major carriers are allowing passengers to switch seats to help with social distancing, they are not requiring passengers to wear masks or stay six feet away from each other.

The risky situation has prompted a strong reaction from the union of flight attendants, which is calling on the Department of Transportation, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services, to “end all leisure travel until the virus is contained”—the words of Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), who penned an open letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Health Secretary Alex Azar.

Nelson’s letter points out that flight attendants have been hard hit by the virus. “At airlines employing AFA member flight attendants, at least 250 have tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and flight attendants have died as a result of the virus too,” writes Nelson.

Nelson’s impassioned letter also says that flight attendants are questioning if they are “helping to spread the virus.”

In addition to calling for an end to leisure air travel, the letter makes other requests, including requiring masks in airports and on planes—for passengers, crew and employees. Nelson also indicates that the U.S. should be following the lead of Canada, which is taking much stronger precautions than this country.

“Canada encourages the use of masks on all modes of public transport and requires all air travelers to wear masks that ‘cover their mouth and nose … at screening checkpoints, … when they cannot physically distance from others, or as directed by the airline employees,’ writes Nelson.

READ MORE: “Some Airlines Are Changing Policies About Miles And Status—Here’s How You Can Cash In”

Nelson’s letter also calls on the U.S. government to do its part. “For air travelers, we recommend that the federal government provide all airports sufficient numbers of disposable cloth or paper masks that are more effective than homemade masks at limiting viral spread,” Nelson says in the letter. “These should be provided free to all members of the public entering airport buildings with the stipulation that they be worn at all times on airport property and on airplanes, and only removed momentarily when necessary for identity verification or food and drink.”

The letter underscores the risks that flight attendants face onboard planes—and beyond. Nelson describes a flight attendant’s schedule, which involves traveling from home to the airport (“often on public transportation”), followed by a bus or shuttle van from the parking lot, then passing by the airport check-in areas, going through security checkpoints, visiting a crew briefing room and heading on to the gate.

Onboard, flight attendants provide routine and emergency services while interacting frequently and in close proximity to passengers and other crew members. “On the airplane and at all of these public places, flight attendants come into repeated contact with the general and traveling public,” explained Nelson.

This is not the first time the AFA has called for an end to leisure travel during the coronavirus pandemic. On March 31, the AFA put out a press release asking the Department of Transportation to consider putting a pause on flights. But with this latest missive, the AFA is taking more extreme measures to get their voices heard and to protect flight attendants on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.


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I’m a travel and lifestyle authority and a content strategist who works with brands to create powerful storytelling. In this column, “Transformative Travel,” I look at how travel can change women’s lives. I profile the doers and the disrupters and cover the trends and the destinations that appeal to women today. I have been writing about travel since the early days of my career, when I started off as a honeymoon editor, even though — ironically — I was single at the time. Since then, I have written for a number of publications, including Food & Wine, Wallpaper and The New York Times. I have been the editor-in-chief of Yahoo Travel, which was named the top online travel magazine under my leadership. Before that, I was deputy editor of Travel & Leisure. Throughout my career, I have appeared regularly on television, including Good Morning America and NBC Today. Journalism is part of my heritage: My great great grandfather was a Civil War correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. Follow me on Twitter (@laurabegley) and Instagram (@laurabegleybloom).

Source: Flight Attendants Warn: The Airlines Need To Stop Flying Now

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Airlines are slashing flights and parking planes to cope with coronavirus and a drop in air travel. For pilots and flight attendants, the near-halt of the industry is a shock, after years of record profits and full planes. Yet some are wondering why flights continue taking off nearly empty. Read more: Subscribe to The Washington Post on YouTube: Follow us: Twitter: Instagram:… Facebook:

How Do You Tell Others to Observe Social Distancing Rules?

New Yorkers heed advice to wear masks to help control the spread of the coronavirus as they sit in Central Park in New York City on April 11, 2020.

Deciding when to comment on someone’s behavior in society’s shared spaces has always been complicated. If someone doesn’t pick up after their dog, do you point it out? If someone cuts you off on the highway, do you yell out your window? What about that smoker on the corner—do you tell them cigarettes are bad for you? What if the smoker is a pregnant woman?

The line between righteous and self-righteous is hard to discern in the best of times, and now there’s a pandemic. New rules about physical distancing and personal hygiene mean new questions about what to do when someone isn’t following them. Nowadays, if someone stands too close to you at the grocery store or coughs into the air on the bus or is walking around without a mask, do you say something? If a non-essential business is continuing to fill its shop with customers, do you call it out?

TIME asked several experts in medical ethics and health policy. The upshot: yes, it can make sense to respond when people aren’t following orders that have been put in place to protect oneself and others. But the way you do it really matters, for the sake of decency and results.

“At least for now, we don’t have treatment or vaccines. All we’ve got is behavior. And there is evidence that the behavior works, if we’re diligent about it,” says Arthur Caplan, director of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine. “We shouldn’t be obnoxious, we shouldn’t get nasty,” Caplan says. “But in this day and age, I think you can speak up.” It could, directly or indirectly, save lives.

When it comes to changing people’s minds or behavior, shame and blame generally don’t work as well as empathy and the benefit of the doubt. And a pandemic is a time when extenuating circumstances are widespread. “Everyone is stressed out and fearful for their own health,” says Northeastern University law professor Aziza Ahmed, an expert in health law. “We have to be sensitive to what other people have the capacity to do.”

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Studies on disaster preparedness have found that one of the best ways to get other people to adopt new habits is to model them. “The literature shows that people will change their behavior if there are three conditions in place: they know what to do, why to do it and they see other people like themselves also doing it,” says Monica Schoch-Spana, a medical anthropologist and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. A crucial part of this, she says, is that authority figures, from political leaders to pastors, are all repeating the same message, to the point that people are “swimming in a sea” of it.

Those waters are murky in the United States, where the response to the pandemic has been politically polarized and messages have been mixed. In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered residents to wear masks when visiting essential businesses that remain open; on Twitter, he posted a new profile picture in which he’s wearing one. Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., President Donald Trump has said he won’t be wearing a mask because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended it, not ordered it, and “I just don’t want to.”

The absence of clarity and consistency from leaders gives individuals more reason to spread the message about best practices themselves (including, yes, wearing a mask). It also gives them more reason to reserve judgment when they do it. “You’re trying to frame it in a way that will motivate people’s behavior, where it’s not like you’re calling them stupid or accusing them of indifference,” Caplan says. “What you’re trying to do is appeal with carrots, not sticks.”

The changing guidance around masks helps illustrate why unwillful ignorance is possible. The CDC at first recommended that only sick people and those caring for them wear masks. Then, as it became more clear that people could spread the disease without appearing sick—making their coughs and sneezes just as dangerous—the CDC recommended everyone wear them. That “why to do it” message goes against our general understanding of what masks are for, and public health experts have had trouble getting it across. “You’re not wearing the mask to protect you, you’re wearing the mask to protect others,” says Stuart Finder, director of the Center of Healthcare Ethics at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. “And there are a lot of people who still don’t understand that.”

Even if people have read the latest guidelines, there could be personal reasons they’re not abiding by them. “You can’t assume you know what is inhibiting someone from engaging in the correct behavior,” Schoch-Spana says. Some black Americans, for example, have reported that concerns about being associated with gangs or perceived as criminals have made them reluctant to wear face coverings. A homeless person has an understandable reason for not being home by curfew. Someone could be failing to stay six feet away from you on the sidewalk because they are blind. You might also encounter a person who doesn’t believe in science and dismisses the risks.

Among the tactics experts suggest for handling these situations is the “it’s not you, it’s me” approach: If you’re at the grocery store and someone is standing right behind you, don’t yell, “Move back!” Instead, emphasize that since you or anyone could have the virus without knowing it, it’s best to stay six feet apart, in case they hadn’t heard. Use cues where you can, like the tape many open businesses have started putting on the floor to show customers how to line up at a proper distance.

If you live in a place like Michigan or Laredo, Texas, where the government is issuing $1,000 fines for violations of social distancing rules, position your reminder as an attempt to protect their wallet. If you live in a state like Hawaii, where at least three people have been arrested for flouting quarantine orders, position it as an attempt to protect their liberty. In general, says Finder, “you want to find ways that reinforce that ‘we’re in this together,’ versus ‘You’re not doing what I want you to do.’”

In rare cases, people have gotten violent during such encounters. At an emergency room in New York City, an 86-year-old woman reportedly lost her balance and grabbed the IV pole of another patient, a 32-year-old woman, thereby violating the social distancing rule to stay six feet away from others. The younger woman allegedly pushed her, causing her to fall, sustain a head injury and die.

Not following the guidelines is dangerous. Not coughing into one’s sleeve can endanger someone else’s life. But, Finder says, “If I respond with a kind of violent or authoritative approach, there is actually danger there too.”

However tactfully one approaches the situation, these kinds of interactions carry risks of escalation. In New Jersey, a grocery store worker asked a customer who was standing near her to move back. Instead, he allegedly stepped closer and coughed toward her, laughing and saying he had the coronavirus. The man is now among the many people that the New Jersey attorney general has issued charges against, as people continue to violate executive orders relating to COVID-19.

There is a difference between being a good neighbor and being a vigilante who takes it upon themselves to inform every person they can, on the street or on Instagram, about what they should and should not be doing. As Caplan puts it, “You don’t have to be the town watchman. We don’t need public health crossing guards.” There are law enforcement officials for that.

Schoch-Spana, of Johns Hopkins, says it is reasonable to handle the situation yourself when there is an invasion of your personal space. “It makes sense to say something when someone is encroaching on your health and well-being,” she says. “You have every right to try and correct that behavior, but it should be done politely and with knowledge-sharing and with positive modeling.”

By Katy Steinmetz April 13, 2020

Source: How Do You Tell Others to Observe Social Distancing Rules?

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As Europe Locks Down, Sweden Takes A Liberal Approach To Coronavirus

Topline: Sweden is taking a more liberal strategy to combat coronavirus than its European neighbors. As confirmed cases and deaths spike, some Swedes are calling for the government to rethink the country’s strategy.

  • Unlike the rest of the continent, people in Sweden as of Friday were still permitted to visit restaurants for sit-down meals, get a haircut and even send children under the age of 16 to school.
  • It’s all part of Sweden’s plan that focuses on self-responsibility as the government turns its attention to isolating and treating confirmed coronavirus patients, instead of widespread shelter-in-place orders.
  • Sweden’s Chief Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has expressed skepticism about enforcing a sustained period of lockdown. While bans have been placed on gatherings of 50 or more people and Swedes have been told to avoid unnecessary travel, these are relatively laidback restrictions when compared to other European countries that are shutting down schools and restricting everyday movement.
  • The government instead has emphasized a set of guidelines, like encouraging increased hand washing, social distancing and limiting contact with vulnerable people, like those over age 70.
  • Recent numbers show Swedes appear to be following social distancing guidelines even when they’re not required by law. Passenger numbers on public transportation in the capital have fallen by half, and polls indicate that half of residents there are working from home.
  • However, some critics say people need more stringent guidelines to follow as both deaths and new cases have risen in the past week. Last month, more than 2,000 academics signed an open letter in March to demand tougher measures from the government

Crucial quote: “It is important to have a policy that can be sustained over a longer period, meaning staying home if you are sick, which is our message,” Tegnell said. “Locking people up at home won’t work in the longer term. Sooner or later people are going to go out anyway.”

Key background: The Swedish Health Agency reported 612 new cases on Friday alone, bringing the countrywide total to about 6,000. The same day, the death toll hit 333. Between 25 to 30 people have died each day. Stockholm has seen the most coronavirus cases, accounting for more than half of the whole country’s fatalities, according to Reuters CRI .

What to watch for: Whether coronavirus cases increase in Sweden in the coming weeks. According to The Daily Mail, one statistician in Sweden said half the population could become infected in April.

Interesting fact: According to YouGov data, Sweden is the country least afraid of the coronavirus pandemic, with only 31% of Swedes say they are “very” or “somewhat” scared that they will contract the virus.

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I am a Texas native covering breaking news out of New York City. Previously, I was a Forbes intern in London. I am an alum of City, University of London and Texas State University.

Source: As Europe Locks Down, Sweden Takes A Liberal Approach To Coronavirus

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