Social distancing in the US may be working 0Social distancing in the US may be working 0

Washington and California were the first states to record cases of nCoV infection in the community, and were also the first states in the US to require people to stay at home.

People wait for a bus in the Union Square residential area of San Francisco.

Although the overall picture of the epidemic in the US is not complete due to limited testing capacity, the reality is that Covid-19 spreads at different speeds in different places.

The data `gives great hope and insight into what could happen,` Deborah Birx, White House Covid-19 response coordinator, said during a press conference on March 31.

It has been 16 days since counties in the San Francisco Bay area asked 6 million people not to leave their homes and 13 days since the order was extended to the entire state of California.

`Every drastic action seems to help slow the spread,` said San Francisco public health official Grant Colfax.

According to public health experts, community isolation measures cannot stop the virus, but the goal is to slow down the spread to avoid overloading the health system.

`The emergency room is pretty quiet,` said Jahan Fahimi, an emergency physician at UCSF hospital in San Francisco, attributing the cause to early response measures from local authorities.

Graphs of the spread of nCoV from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington indicate that California’s steps have helped reduce the total expected number of deaths from 6,100 to 5,100.

`We are seeing fewer deaths and a flattening of the curve,` said Ali Mokdad, a senior lecturer at IHME.

IHME’s chart predicts about 94,000 people will die from Covid-19 across the United States.

In Washington state, where the outbreak started in a nursing home in February, authorities began banning events of more than 250 people in Seattle from March 11, requiring restaurants and bars to close from March 16.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said on March 31 that he wanted to be `cautious` when drawing conclusions about the effectiveness of the social distancing measures the state is pursuing, but said he felt more confident that the system would be effective.

`We have time to prepare. That is the goal of early social distancing,` said Governor Newsom.

Nurses gather to take nCoV test samples in Orlando, Florida, April 1.

Nicholas Jewell, a professor of biostatistics at the University of California, Berkeley, said applying social distancing measures a week earlier could make a big difference in efforts to stop the spread of the epidemic.

`Many states still have the attitude ‘we have to keep the economy open,’ which is a mistake,` he said.

About 30 US states have issued stay-at-home orders for all people, except those working in `essential` industries.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis initially said he would only issue a stay-at-home order in four southern counties.

`We’re trying to tell everyone that social distancing really works,` said IHME’s Mokdad.

Anthony S. Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, admitted at a press conference on March 31 at the White House that social distancing is `inconvenient` for most people, but he affirmed

The emerging good news is not a sign for cities and states to relax restrictions, researchers note.

However, to extinguish the epidemic, only implementing community isolation is not enough, experts say.

`When the first wave is over, we will need large-scale testing machines,` said Christopher Murray, director of IHME.

Vu Hoang (According to Washington Post)

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