How long will social distancing last?

Social distancing measures have been implemented across all 50 states and a multitude of other countries that are currently affected by the continued increase in Covid-19 cases. This tactic is incredibly important to reduce the number of cases that develop across the globe since a vaccine has yet to be distributed. To give some perspective on how this is predicted to play out if social distancing is followed, the IHME, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, has created a model to predict the number of deaths per day, the total deaths, and the number of resources needed as well as the shortages that may come about in the United States.

When wondering how long social distancing will last, it must not be confused with quarantine and self-isolation. The latter two have a short-term two-week span for staying away from the public for either having been exposed to the virus or having contracted the virus. Social distancing, rather, is a long-term strategy for everyone to abide by where one keeps distance from others and only goes out when necessary. Participating in this strategy along with wearing a mask has been shown to reduce the rapid spread of Covid-19.

The estimated percentage needed to reach herd immunity from the virus is anywhere from 70-90% and that will only be able to be achieved with a rapid distribution of vaccines to the public. Without herd immunity, the risk of another rapid spread of infection is extremely high if social distancing measures are scaled back. With that being said, without a vaccine there is no definite time span for lifting social distancing measures. In fact, the IHME has found that an increase in infection rates is likely in the fall and winter months. For that reason, it is even more imperative that people continue to socially distance themselves from others until further notice.



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