These Data Do Not Give Us Hope’: COVID-19 Cases Rebound Immediately When States Lift Social Distancing Policies

There is no denying the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every layer of the population gravely. Be it the people involved in business, services, or agriculture, this pandemic has somehow hit everyone very hard. Even if a person has not been contracted the disease, the far-reaching effects of the epidemic have not spared anyone.

Since no vaccines or medicine were available when the disease struck the population initially, lockdowns seemed to be the only way out to keep the level of contraction under control.

According to the guidelines of WHO, the entire world population started following the basic rules of health and hygiene without any fail. Putting the mask on whenever you step outside your home or keeping a safe distance from the next person were some of the norms that became standard during the pandemic era.

While most people followed the norms religiously, the spread of the disease could not be arrested until the nations imposed lockdowns. From offices to schools, from factories to markets, everything remained closed during this period.

There cannot be any debate on the matter that this complete closure of the economy hit the annual earnings of the nations very hard. Plenty of nations suffered a negative GDP, and millions of people suffered a lower income or had to adjust with no income at all.

There is no doubt that the pandemic offered several challenges, and one of the most critical ones was the lockdown. With no place to go, people suffered a severe mental setback as well. The data taken during this time showed that clinical depression rose sharply during this time of lockdown.

Therefore, lifting the lockdown and the restrictions is undoubtedly good news for all. But, what concerns the experts is the status of the pandemic. While the number of contractions has diminished over the last few months, no one can guarantee that the virus has made its way out of the planet.

The Study

Therefore, the threat of resurgence looms large. The latest study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases casts light on the same issue. The United States has already started lifting restrictions on movement, social distancing, masks, and more following a sharp fall in the number of COVID cases over the last few weeks.

According to the study, declaring the policies void before time can be detrimental in many ways. Even though the number of COVID cases has indeed declined over time, its chances of contraction are still there. If all the restriction measures get lifted, people would be interacting with each other like the pre-pandemic times,which could lead to a substantial rise in the level of contraction again.

To conduct the survey, the researchers took data from Washington D. C. and all 50 states of the US. Each state showed a noteworthy decline in the number of new COVID cases. The data was taken eight weeks before the restrictive policies got lifted up. Apparently, the reduced number of COVID cases can indeed be cited for such a move. The restrictive policies encompassed school closings, limiting public events, restaurant closings, and more.

The Effect

Once the restrictions got lifted, the COVID contraction rates rebounded. According to the experts, this is what happens when restrictions get relaxed prematurely, without waiting for a medical solution to treat the disease to arrive. The senior author of this report, Mark J. Siedner, a Massachusetts General Hospital investigator and MD, MPH, remarked that the data and the numbers do not give much hope.

This veteran professor of Harvard Medical School, Medicine Department further explained that no data would be enough to confirm the safety of the individuals from contamination until vaccines arrive. He also suggested that maintaining the basic precautions like wearing masks, washing hands, and carrying social distancing can be the best ways to keep the disease away for the time being.

Impact On the People

According to Alexander C. Tsai, MD, Ph.D., a Harvard Medical School psychiatry professor, and an MGH investigator, the pandemic has impacted different layers of people differently. The dominant portion of the ill effects induced by the pandemic has been borne by the poorer class so far.

The social and economic impacts of the pandemic have been graver than the disease itself. With the lockdown effective for several months, the bottom strata of the population suffered insult over injuries.   According to him, the poor people, marginalized laborers, public school students, etc., are the ones to whom these impacts have got inequitably transmitted.

Therefore, the local governments must take adequate care before lifting the restrictions, or else a widespread lockdown can again become due. A sudden lifting of the preventive measures would only surge the number of patients in the hospitals. The study suggested thorough checking of the pros and cons associated with these policies before lifting them at local levels.

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