Even if a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, many experts say that things won’t get back to normal unless we stop congregating mindlessly. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, warned that people aggregating in large groups is the primary cause driving high infection rates.
According to Ladders, Thomas Frieden, M.D., former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a CNBC Workforce Executive Council virtual event:
“Even with a vaccine, there is no going back to normal anytime soon. It looks more likely than not that this virus keeps circulating even with a vaccine. COVID is here to stay.”
While limiting crowd size is one way of tackling the problem, lawmakers have found it challenging to enforce. A party in New Jersey in a rented Airbnb publicly flouted the state’s COVID-19 crowd guidelines with over 700 guests in attendance. It took officers 5 hours to disperse the crowd, according to CNN, putting many officers at risk of infection.
While experts say it’s understandable that Americans want to return to business as usual, there is no indication the virus is waning. In fact, in many areas the numbers are climbing.
Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy at the University of Minnesota, said that 7-9% of the U.S. population has been infected by the coronavirus. Science says that unless 50-70% of us are infected, transmission will continue.
“We’ve got to stop this virus activity or there will be fear we will see these peaks, but every time it goes down, it plateaus at a higher level,” he told CNBC. “We will be dealing with this forever.”
Osterholm reiterated that keeping your distance from others is the most important protective measure, especially in indoor-air environments. Masks and other protective measures are just added layers of safety, he said.
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