It appears that the U.S. government is exploring the possibility of trying to get working people back on the job without providing them with adequate protection in the form of PPE or insisting on proper social distancing. Sending people back to work without protection is a very poor form of trying to achieve herd immunity by infecting the entire population.
Unfortunately, there are a few problems with trying to develop herd immunity now in the USA all in one fell swoop. (this appears to be the new Trump strategy though they don’t call it that officially)
First, we don’t know that an infected person will develop immunity, reinfection may still be a possibility.
Second, there is no treatment nor a vaccine as yet so all who become seriously ill may eventually die
Third, we still don’t know who and why are susceptible. And more reports of children with Covid-19 including cases of Kawasaki syndrome.
Fourth, to achieve herd immunity 70-90% needs to be infected. If the rate of death remains the same as now it is possible we will see more than 1 million deaths in the USA. This is not acceptable.
Fifth, to prevent # 4 from happening – 3+ million deaths — we need aggressive case identification, tracking, isolation of infected and exposed and masks and social distancing. This is not rocket science. Lots of countries have done it or are doing it. Look at China, S. Korea etc. Australia, New Zealand. They all pursued aggressive containment etc. It took them two months but no now new cases and their economies are starting up again.
What has happened in the USA during the past several weeks. The country was slow to recognize the magnitude of the problem (the president dismissed the virus as a problem for 3-4 weeks) and the country acted late so that the virus got a head start, Then there was weak implementation of various interventions as the government did not provide PPE for health workers nor protect essential workers. Social distancing has not been practiced in many states. And poorly practice in many states
So what’s up now – the epidemic is improving in NY, but in many, many states the epidemic is getting worse (the one’s, for the most part, without social distancing I might note). Things are so bad now that models predict another 70,00 to 100,000 deaths on top of the 72,000 already occurred, and that’s assuming some degree of social distancing is maintained. Our governments inept response is going to result in the death of 150,000 to 200,000 more people than it should have. If we had aggressively shut down and done social distancing from the beginning with case identification and tracking we would look like China, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Europe, etc.,
Unfortunately, we have the worst of both worlds – a continuing pandemic and a disrupted economy. Both may continue for as long as 1-3 more years with repeated waves of the virus and an economic recession of gargantuan proportions.