A new study released by the University of Pennsylvania predicts that lifting stay-at-home orders too soon and the public relaxing social distancing measures could cause over 230,000 more COVID-19 deaths by the end of June.
The research analyzed the economic impact of reopening states, ending stay-at-home orders and school closures, and lifting emergency declarations. The research aims to predict the effect of reopening bars, restaurants, stores, and schools across the nation and the likelihood that reopenings would spur another COVID-19 outbreak.
It found that if states were to fully reopen in May, as many as 230,000 more people could die by the end of June. “Fully reopen” means no social restrictions, consistent with life at the beginning of 2020.
The study noted that the risk of more infections increases if people also relax social distancing precautions like wearing masks, washing hands, and keeping a distance from other people as they return to normal life.
Partial reopening would cause 45,000 additional deaths by the end of June, the study projects.
“If, however, individuals see full reopening as a “return to normal” and as a result relax their own voluntary social distancing practices—behaving in a manner consistent with Feb 1, 2020—cumulative national deaths would reach 950,000 by June 30,” the report added.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has long warned of reopening states too soon and argues the disease isn’t going away any time soon.
If states reopen their economies without proper precautions, Fauci said that “there is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you might not be able to control, which, in fact, paradoxically, will set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided but could even set you back on the road to trying to get economic recovery.”
Fauci is a member of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force and has been a notable critic of returning to “business as usual” too quickly.
Across the country, more than 90,000 people have died from coronavirus with over 1.6 million total confirmed cases of the airborne killer. New York, New Jersey, and Illinois have been the hardest hit U.S. states.
Also, men have been found to be more prone to infection than women.
The virus has particularly affected older adults and those with pre-existing medical conditions like heart or lung disease, asthma, and diabetes.