Fandango’s Provocative Question (15 April 2020)

Wednesday. Fandango’s Provocative Question once again. This week, a multi-parter.

Are you currently living in an area where there are stay-at-home orders? If so, do you think that it is wise and safe to lift the stay-at-home orders as early as May 1st? How soon after such stay-at-home orders are relaxed will you discard “social distancing” practices and return to the same social behaviors you exercised before this pandemic changed the way we live?

As I write this, I have already read a couple of other responses, I’m afraid this one will just be more of the same.

Let’s get the easy bit out of the way. Yes, I am in lockdown. I’m not staying at home in the strictest sense, because I am lucky enough to live rurally. I’m able to walk up the street, and I won’t see anyone. So, the home bit is incidental, but I am being careful to isolate myself from other people as much as possible.

On to the nuts and bolts, I’m afraid this is going to be a technical answer. Here is what we have seen regarding new infections in China:

Unfortunately, the scale is quite large because of that one big spike. Just ignoring that spike, the graph shows that the peak was at the start of February, and the cases had tailed off significantly by the start of March. About a month. And in the last week or so, we’re starting to hear reports of the lockdown being lifted in Wuhan, so about eight weeks from peak to lift? Now, let’s look at Italy:

Okay, the scale is much smaller, but you see the same kind of shape. They reached a peak in mid-March, and three weeks later there are still a big number of new cases. Just for good measure, Spain:

So, maybe peaked in the last week of March. Three weeks later again, still a significant number of new cases.

So, two months to drop a lot, and two and three weeks to drop significantly, but to still have lots of new cases. Now, let’s look at the USA:

Now, hopefully the USA peaked about a week ago, but to get the economy moving again by the start of May? That’d be about 3 weeks post-peak. About the same as where Spain is right now. That’s optimistic. I’d be more likely to put my money on the end of May, and even that is pretty optimistic.

But I’m afraid my other prediction is that it won’t stop Trump’s supporters from loving him. If the goal here is to show that Trump and his supporters are living on a different planet, well … we knew that already.

One scenario that might be interesting, though is if Trump starts sending people back to work, and they just ignore him. Or, if the USA gets a fresh outbreak. I wonder if any of that will damage him?

Okay, last part, lockdown has not really changed my behaviour much. Even before, I used to go out only three or four times a week anyway. And I seem better able to cope with this isolation than a lot of the people I speak to. Certainly some of those trips out, like my charity work, I’d be happy to do straight away.

And, there’s no point being squeamish about buying groceries, because we have to do that.

I think the things that might make me anxious, though, would be places like coffee shops – a big room full of people. That might take a little longer – the month after lockdown is lifted will be the interesting time, because that’s when any new cases as a result of lifting the lockdown will start to show. So I think I’ll certainly be looking at graphs like these to satisfy myself that it is safe to be out there.

And note, I’m only looking at new cases at the moment. I’m not looking at deaths. Because I believe that deaths will follow that same curve as new cases, but will lag behind then by a couple of weeks. If there are no new corona cases, then there will be no resulting deaths.


  1. I agree! Measurements are the same as they were here till the 3th of May and next week we’ll see how it goes. I think it’s better to be safe than sorry. They’ve opened garden shops and do-it-yourself businesses. And we were told that masks will be also in place when we’re going to adapt to ‘normal’ life again. All big events (festivals etc) are cancelled till the 31st of August.

    Liked by 1 person

    • DIY and garden centres would be my first choice too. Encourage people to stay at home, but at least allow then to go out and get things for the house. I’m speaking to people who are filling their time with diy; we did a lot of gardening at the weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s only allowed open when social distancing is possible of course. I think it is a bit too soon; I don’t know but I don’t like the measurements become very strict (like in France). I hope people can stay safe and I’m glad you are!

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            • I did hear it was a definite decision by Paris, or it might have been Ile de France. I have a friend there, out by Orly Apt,, I know the school she teaches at has been closed since about the same time as our schools, but I don’t know how locked-down she is.

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              • I follow a gentleman living in Reims (closer to Belgium I think) and what I read is very strict. He is not allowed to move more than 1 km from his home and groceries can be done every 14 days with a permit. I don’t know how it is at the moment (I read the blog at the beginning of the lock down). I guess every country or group of people will have different rules now. Norway, Sweden and Austria are becoming less strict I’ve read. Also Germany and Spain which can mean good news for my Churro! Tomorrow we’re going to try to buy a basket and leech (?) for him. We’ll need to see what is available at this point.
                I just hope that governments follow science but we just don’t know. Economics had a lot of weight too in the approach!

                Liked by 1 person

                  • No leaches for my dog! And not for me either, it won’t help against the virus!! I was confused too for a moment and typed the wrong word.
                    I will use a lead from now on, that is a new word for me, so I’ve learned something too 🙂 Thanks for explaining 😃

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • UK, there are very few places where a dog can run free. I presume that is the law, though I never found out. Where I am, it is more open, dogs can run about in big meadows, there are lots of dog-owners here.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I’ve seen a picture of your street and from walks close by, seems really open and good for people and dogs to have some space. Space and silence are the new currency in my opinion.

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  2. It’s good to look at the stats and to see how the number of cases has dropped after the peak. But testing is so bad in the U.S. that many health professionals are concerned that we’re way undercounting the number of cases. I think it’s a huge mistake to strive for normal in just two weeks from now when our number of new cases continues to rise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The same is true here – last I read, it would take 20 years to test us all (once)! But I don’t get too hung up on the actual number of cases, more the shape of the curve. Even if only a proportion of all cases are appearing in the statistics, a proportion of 0 is still 0.
      If he does relax things, and there is a further explosion (likely), it will be visible in these graphs. Unfortunately it will be a costly mistake.

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