Cuadros said it’s difficult to say which social-distancing measures have proven most effective at reducing the infection rates. Researchers around the world are studying that now, he said. Ohio and other states implemented widespread changes, from closing schools and businesses to postponing or canceling public events and issuing stay-at-home orders.
Now the first of those states have lifted their restrictions with many others like Ohio planning gradual reopenings.
“A very strict lockdown is not going to be sustainable. There will be an economic impact that would be difficult to sustain,” Cuadros said. “But we have to be aware that the virus is still here and it’s not going anywhere. When interventions are lifted, the virus will take off again.”
If Ohio’s current interventions stay in place through June 30, 55 of the state’s 88 counties will have fewer than 10 deaths from COVID-19. Under moderate reopening, just 25 counties will have fewer than 10 deaths while 27 counties will have more than 50 deaths by June 30. With significant relaxation of social distancing, 84 of Ohio’s 88 counties will have more than 10 deaths by June 30. Likewise, 50 counties will have more than 50 deaths and 20 counties will have more than 200 deaths.
Like Ohio’s population, the state’s critical care services are distributed in varying densities. Rural counties will reach critical care capacity sooner than more populated counties. UC recommends addressing ICU capacity in some of these counties to provide an effective intermittent social-distancing approach across Ohio.
UC’s Geospatial Health Advising Group plans to expand its projections nationwide and in Canada as well.
“Just because people want to go back to normal doesn’t mean it’s going to happen,” he said. “We can’t eliminate risk, but we can reduce it.”