There is a cause-effect relationship between decisions taken by the authorities throughout the world in these critical days and the final outcome of Coronavirus pandemic. If we look at the evolution of the situation under the angle of protection of human life, I stated yesterday my opinion that, although their response has not been perfect, Italian authorities did their best given the information in their possession: the harsh measures imposed in China were hard to enforce in a Western country, there were unknowns in the virus spreading mechanics and Italy was the first Western country to be severely hit.
After Italy, things are no longer the same and lessons learned there are being used in many parts of the world. Browsing through the internet, I am still puzzled by the situation in New York.
Quoting an article appeared on Channel News Asia on 29th of March, New York area has been the most seriously hit by COVID-19 in the United States, with more than 52,000 cases in New York state. The same article reports that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had not discussed the opportunity of a quarantine in New York during his recent meetings with Donald Trump. Then following statements given by Mr. Cuomo during a press conference are quoted:
“I don’t even know what that means (a quarantine), But I can tell you, I don’t even like the sound of it. Not even understanding what it is, I don’t like the sound of it.”
“I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable. And from a medical point of view, I don’t know what you would be accomplishing”.
Previously, Mr. Cuomo announced a statewide “stay at home” order on March 20, warning New York state’s 19 million residents that those who defy the expansive edict could face civil fines. “When I talk about the most drastic action we can take, this is the most drastic action we can take,” Cuomo said.
The restrictions took effect the night of March 22 and stipulate what follows:
- All New Yorkers are ordered to work from home.
- Employees in essential jobs and government personnel can continue to work.
- Solitary walks and outdoor exercise is permitted but all team sports are banned.
- Residents are allowed to go to the grocery store and run errands.
- Restaurants and bars can still deliver to homes.
- All non-essential businesses statewide must close their premises.
- Liquor and wine stores are classified as essential so can stay open, as can pharmacies, grocery stores, and restaurants and bars offering takeout and delivery only.
- Mass transit and roadways are not affected.
It is interesting to compare situation in USA to what we are observing in Italy. This chart highlights the growth on new Coronavirus cases in United States of America in March. New York is by far the most impacted area.
As we can see, the blue line, representing daily increment of new COVID-19 cases, is quickly stepping away from the orange one, that represents average of number of new cases over the previous seven days. This simply means that COVID-19 spread in United States of America is accelerating and the pandemic looks out of control.
The same thing happened in Italy and Italian authorities rolled out severe lock-down policies across the whole country. As we speak, the measures seem to have played a key role in curbing the virus spread.
I found the list of measures that have been rolled out in the different states within United States of America. They seem light compared to the harsh restrictions that have been taken in Italy and I anticipate that they will likely be insufficient to slow down COVID-19 expansion.
If measures implemented in New York are effective, we should observe signs of new daily cases trend inversion around the 6th of April. If this does not happen, more restrictions will have to be considered. The situation calls for extreme actions and failing to take the right decisions in the name of protection of economic interests is a very risky bet.
Think of it from a different perspective: what if, after finally realizing that the virus spread is completely out of control, lock-down had to be finally enforced in New York and United States of America when there was no economic interest to protect anymore?