To commemorate the one year anniversary of the pandemic plaguing America, President Joe Biden issued an ambitious goal; return the country to semblance of normalcy by the Fourth of July. “However, to get there, we cannot let our guard down”, Biden adds. Unfortunately, many countries such as Texas and Tennessee have let their guard down by restricting previous COVID-19 policies such as mask wearing and social distancing. We asked Associate Professor of Finance Anna Scherbina about these guidelines, and she has worked with doctors for COVID Disease Control to formulate a cost-benefit analysis of these procedures. Here is her response:
To restrict the spread of COVID-19, “First, we must decide which restrictions will make the most logical difference. After a year of studying the virus, our health officials agree that the most effective interventions include mandating face coverings, limiting indoor gatherings and requiring physical social distancing. Therefore, these restrictions should be prioritized”. Perhaps the reason for the effective nature of these practices is that they can be conducted by any individual at any time and are more direct in ceasing the spread,
Scherbina continues, “Other secondary measures include closing nonessential business, restricting travel from heavily affected areas, and maintaining widespread testing and contact tracing. Currently, businesses are open in all but eight states, while masks are still required in a little over half of them. It should also be noted that states that have ended COVID restrictions have had the biggest increase in cases”.
Scherbina then delves into the specifics and views the virus through a future lens: “To project the number of future cases, we used a standard epidemiological model that estimates how various factors alter how many people get sick or die from the disease. The model allows me to incorporate assumptions concerning the implementation of coronavirus restrictions nationwide as well as exact vaccination rates that we assume will continue at the current pace of about 2.5 million per day”.
According to the results, nearly 5.5 million people will likely get sick and 65,000 people will die if the current level of restrictions remains in place. However, if the country were to crack down on COVID procedures, the rates can fall to 3 million people and 10,000`deaths. In turn, the amount of lives that could be saved will also benefit the economy by saving $37 million on a weekly basis.
In other words, in the words of Scherbina, “Now is not the time to ease up”. While the main virus is declining, other variants of the virus still linger and measures such as mask mandates and social distancing should remain in effect until further notice. However, it is up to these states to enforce these restrictions so we could have a beneficial economy, a safer population, and a safer America.