There are many states in the US that are reopening, some in a phased manner, others have just opened everything. On May 18, Massachusetts’ government unveiled a plan that stated that true “normalcy” would not really be attained until there was a treatment or vaccine. At the time of the report, there were over 86,000 confirmed cases. Almost six thousand people died. Today’s numbers (June 14) for the state are over 100,000 cases of COVID-19 and over 7,500 total deaths.
Massachusetts has a four phased plan of reopening after all non-essential businesses were closed on March 23rd. We are in Phase 2 now. The plan is based on public health metrics and reopening occurs based on those metrics. And many distancing strategies are in place for the foreseeable future.
When does a pandemic end? Massachusetts use of a phased approach and public health metrics are guiding the decisions. And we are in an experiment to see if this is the way to “end” the pandemic.
In the case of the COVID-19 “cousin” SAR-CoV which caused the SARs epidemic of 2003, it was easier to “end.” First, isolating sick and quarantining contacts was less difficult because people transmitted the disease after being sick, not before. They weren’t contagious until after they had symptoms. Infection control was less difficult to implement. There hasn’t been a case of SARs since 2004.
Social ending of the pandemic has begun as people tire of restrictions. The medical end? Many vaccinations are in trials.