ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Could staying home longer due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) actually end up benefitting us economically in the end? Public health experts are pushing for patience with the current restrictions to avoid a second peak of illnesses.
Dr. Howard Markel is one of the researchers who helped coin the phrase “flatten the curve.” He’s the director of the University of Michigan’s Center for the History of Medicine. He said history suggests patience pays off.
The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic hit the United States hard. Markel’s data on how cities responded was also used by economic researchers to look at how cities recovered.
“What they found is that the cities with the best records, the ones that acted in a layered responsive non-pharmaceutical interventions and did them for a long period of time,” Markel said. “Those cities bounced back into the economy post-1919 influenza in a much stronger way than those that were struck very hard.”
Although the world and our economy are far different now, Markel said reopening too soon still runs the risk of needing to shut down again for even longer.
“It’s economically costly to many families in Michigan,” Markel said. “I get them, but it is better to stay the course and be patient so that we nail this thing down and we can resume our normal lives.
“What we’re trying to do here is prevent the spread of a disease, and most importantly, prevent the spread of a deadly disease, for our loved ones.”
Some have pointed to the low number of patients at the TCF field hospital as an example that we don’t need these restrictions. Markel said it’s just the opposite. It’s a sign that what we’re doing is working.