By: Neil S. Siskind
The Director General of the W.H.O. said the following on March 16, 2020 with respect to the contagiousness of COVID-19:
“People infected with COVID-19 can still infect others after they stop feeling sick, so quarantine measures should continue for at least two weeks after symptoms disappear.”
Some medical professionals- physicians, scientists, and virologists- say that a patient is only contagious (or, infectious) for 7-10 days following the “onset” (not the “disappearing”) of symptoms (as long as the patient is symptom and fever-free).
This- to me- means that if we all assume that we have the COVID-19 virus, today, and we go under an “elevated” or “second phase” stay-at-home order1, and, if we all act as if we have symptoms for fourteen days from now (though even the most profound symptoms, like fever, do not last for this long, without requiring going to a hospital), then, two weeks from the end of that fourteen day period (for a total of four weeks), no one would be contagious any longer.
And, again, this time frame is based on the W.H.O’s more conservative guidance.
The situation at that time (4 weeks from now), would be as follows: (i) Those who had the virus would no longer be contagious, and would have immunity; and (ii) those who were asymptomatic would have immunity, and would no longer be contagious to others; and (iii) those who never had the virus would be at little risk, because anyone who had it would no longer be contagious; and (iv) there would be those in the hospital with the virus, isolated- and those who had passed away.
So, based on the conservative medical opinion of the W.H.O., if we were to see an “elevated” or “second phase” stay-at-home order as of today2, in 4-6 weeks, we would have people who have died, people isolated in the hospital, and everyone else free and clear of contagiousness, and we could go back to normality.
If we just assume that everyone in America has the COVID-19 virus as of today (or, as of 10 days from now, if we want to account for the most recent possible contractions), then we could begin an official countdown to normality.
This would be a “synchronized quarantine”.
By way of illustration- consider a hypothetical situation where every American (or every New Yorker, or what have you2) is in their home, alone (limited to spouses and children), all having the virus, beginning today (some of those people would have only newly contracted the virus, thus, we could start the “second phase” stay-at-home order day-count in ten days from now, by when anyone who has contracted the virus in the past two weeks would show symptoms). By virtue of the most conservative estimates on the virus’s contagiousness, symptoms should end in about fourteen days (for people who are not so ill that they go to a hospital). Then, two weeks after the end of symptoms, according to the W.H.O.’s guidance, no one would be contagious. That’s about five-and-a-half weeks, total- and, again- that’s the most conservative advised time period3.
If everyone were to be home during this time period, we would not even need testing afterwards to establish who had the virus, or not, or who has it upon exit from the second phase stay-at-home order. It wouldn’t matter. Per the medical science, everyone would be cleared of the ability to pass the virus on- period (when following all stay-at-home guidelines- more on this below).
Let’s understand the synchronized quarantine’s simplicity and value with a simple analogy using a hypothetical virus. Let’s pretend that a horrible virus is going around a community of fifty people living in an isolated mountain town. The virus is known to incubate for up to two days, such that if any member of the community has contracted the virus, symptoms would appear within two days, and, if contracted, they would be contagious for two days, and the virus is known to last and show horrific symptoms for a total of five days. Let’s say ten people in that community have the virus- but they don’t know which ten. One thing they all do know, however, based on past history with this virus and medical data, is that if all fifty people stay home, alone, for four days (two days for possible incubation, plus two more for a contagiousness period)- then in four days, there would be no way for anyone new to contract it, because everyone who had it could no longer spread it, since the two-day contagiousness period has elapsed. As long as there is no one from outside that quarantine-zone who is introduced into that community, then the spread is dead. If everyone in this community goes into a quarantine for the contagiousness period- then it’s over. If there were to be a synchronized quarantine, they’d know the exact end-date of contagiousness and of the virus’s run, and could plan their lives, accordingly. Moreover, if that small town knew that the virus came from a member of the community who ate a bat, then they’d even know how and where it began so that it can’t suddenly appear among the community, again (i.e. a second wave), once cleared (as long as that person stops eating bats).
Keep in mind that during a synchronized quarantine period in the U.S., treatments and vaccines would continue to be pursued.
Of course, inbound air travelers to the U.S. would have to be limited, regulated, and tested, or not allowed in, at all, or not without a health clearance, of some sort, on our end, following a traveler quarantine.
Based on the time periods and the medical guidance, there should be no second wave4, as has been suggested by some. Let’s not forget, it’s a virus- it’s not a spirit, or a magical power. It’s a “thing”- that comes from another “thing”. It has to come out of a person- or, say, a bat. If we have ensured that all people have passed the period of contagiousness (and people are kept away from any suspicious bats)- then, it’s, largely, over.
The question of why countries and cities are having re-occurrences after actual lockdowns is an important query. China and Hong Kong have blamed inbound travelers who were not properly isolating or distancing wherever they were located before coming to their countries. Perhaps, the proper time periods (e.g. not sheltering in place long enough), or proper shelter-in-place methods (e.g. having too many people in one home) were not taken in their county of travel origin. Perhaps, proper measures were not taken by some in China and Hong Kong. It’s a bit of an unknown. But, logic dictates that if the requisite time has passed, based on medical guidelines (if trusted and followed) some outside factor is at play.5
Can the virus re-emerge in someone who cleared it? Experts say that it’s unlikely. But, even if it can do so, the chances would be no higher than with someone who had a major treatment in a hospital. So, until there is a vaccine, our pursuit of life, with the use of an “elevated” stay-at-home order for the required time period to get contagiousness clearance, has to go on. Anyone can catch anything, given the right circumstances.
Perhaps, as it gets warmer, and as we get higher UV index readings and more vitamin D from the sun, the virus will “miraculously, just disappear”. Further, there’s reason to believe, in my assessment, that virus contraction is far less likely outdoors than indoors (especially when it’s warm and sunny outdoors), where germ-spread is more linear and direct, and where aerosol spread is contained between people- making warm weather, and more time outside, a potential savior for this reason, too- as long as people practice social-distancing and hand-washing.
(It could be argued, actually, that as the weather turns warmer and sunnier, being outside, and not quarantined inside, could provide a better result for the many reasons discussed in the paragraph above. This position would be especially persuasive in cases where many people are quarantined at-home, together, which should be avoided. More on this latter point, below.)
As for countries with high infection rates, it’s because of the highly contagious nature of the virus and how far the virus had spread, mostly in February and March, before stay-at-home and social distancing measures were instituted. For example, April cases and deaths in the U.S. have been the result of behaviors and infections contracted in mid and late March; in other words, it’s not because the virus can’t be controlled by a more stringent stay at home and social distancing campaign, complimented by an inbound-travel restriction, and warmer, sunnier weather (people can be outside their homes to get sun and exercise).
An advanced stay-at-home order, would, ideally, not permit multiple people to remain in one home, where the passing of the virus goes on, and on, and on, down the line, over weeks such that each new person contracts it a week after each prior person, on a rolling basis (as has been suggested is the case in Italy, where multiple family members and generations share a home). This particular issue would have to be carefully accounted for- even if it means the federal government paying for housing to keep the number of people, per home, to a limit. If it could help provide a definitive cutoff date when no more people are contagious, allowing us all to get back to work, and to our lives, it would be well-worth the cost.
An elevated stay-at-home order that uses the most stringent rules and methods related to behaviors, and follows conservative contagiousness time periods, and that accounts for the latest possible date of virus contractions in starting the time measurement of the quarantine would satisfy all of the health concerns of Dr. Fauci’s team by clearing all, or most, Americans of the virus’s contagiousness in the most definitive, measurable, and synchronized manner, while also providing the President with a definitive, and, relatively, near-term date for re-opening the economy- which could, then “turn on like a light switch”.
What’s the downside of a more stringent stay-at-home order? People will get bored? Is that what this country has come to? Americans gave their lives in WWII, in Vietnam, in the Civil War, for civil rights, and to give medical aid in the COVID-19 outbreak- but, asking us to be bored is just too much?
Whether there’s a more stringent second phase stay-at-home order, or not, we’re not going back to work until late May- at the earliest2. So, at least, let’s be sure of our national health status at that time with a synchronized quarantine, where anyone, including anyone who could possibly have the virus, and anyone who comes down with the virus in the next fourteen days, couldn’t possibly be contagious at the end of May, not when using the time periods provided by leading authorities- while they’re kept from infecting anyone in the meanwhile.
Even if new virus cases continue to decline, it still leaves room for asymptomatic people to keep spreading the virus if they’re not forced to stay home with a more stringent stay-at-home order. Even as you read this, an asymptomatic person is spreading this virus to others- who will spread it to others, and so on. As we return to work, and the gym, and the theater, and restaurant dining, asymptomatic people could be actively spreading the virus for a second wave. Social distancing is good while we’re distancing. But, what comes when we’re close, again? With a synchronized quarantine, we can starve the virus, together, all at once, in a matter of weeks. It’s not a lockdown. A “synchronized quarantine” is a medically directed action coordinated so that it parallels the time period of a disease’s contagiousness so that anyone and everyone who could possibly have that disease, which, in this case, can be a good portion of the population, can clear the contagiousness period, simultaneously, and remove the risk to the larger community.
The very worst outcome for the United States would be to go back to work only to have a breakout or relapse of the virus that causes us to run for the supermarket and for our homes, in a panic, creating a permanent feeling of uncertainty about health and safety among Americans. That would be a complete and utter worst-case scenario come true, and a total disaster. It would end patronage at movie theaters, and gyms, and restaurants, and on subways, and even on airplanes, forever. It would be far better for the government to send Americans the message: “This is how we spot a virus- and, this is how we stop a virus”.
This virus has a known contagiousness period. If we are all in our houses under strict and verifiable conditions during that period, then, when we emerge, there would be no way to contract the virus- because, there would be no one left from whom to contract it!
There are big challenges to a national, or partially-national “synchronized quarantine”2- legally and logistically. But, think of the challenges we may have without one.
1. An “elevated” or “second phase” stay-at-home order should be similar to, but far stricter than, existing orders. People could go out for food and medicine and exercise- but restrictions should be more strongly enforced, with much more excessive penalties- including, up to $5,000.00 and a misdemeanor charge for a violation. Parameters for exercise have to be specifically spelled-out with respect to the amount of time and distance from home permitted.
2. Stringent stay-at-home orders can be made just by certain states by their governors if the federal government refuses to (or determines that it can’t) take this action for the nation, with states placing some sort of commuter or roadway tax on residents of other states’ that enter the state, or using whatever proves to be the most effective deterrent, while being constitutional. Especially in a state such as New York, with the center of the world’s financial industry at Wall Street, plus its large law firms, Silicon Alley, and the large tourism and entertainment industries, all making New York the financial engine of America, such a plan of action may be advisable, as much as Governor Cuomo has tried to avoid it.
This type of elevated stay-at-home order can be implemented in multiple states, such as New York, Washington, New Jersey, Florida, Louisiana, Illinois, Michigan and Massachusetts, while not occurring in smaller, less affected states, including, West Virginia, Wyoming, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Maine.
3. Using more liberal time periods provided by respected physicians, it would be fourteen days from now to know who all the people are who have the virus (plus all of those who are asymptomatic), then ten days from that for those people to remain contagious (as long as there’s no fever), for a total of twenty-four days until a patient could return to normal life activities without risk of infecting anyone.
4. The term “second wave” is being thrown around and used incorrectly, at times. Dr. Fauci originally suggested that this virus, just like the flu virus, could return in a “second wave” next season (in the late fall), and on a seasonal basis, thereafter. That’s different than the “second wave” being seen in Hong Kong and parts of China, where, once people went back to work and were physically closer to each other again, the virus re-emerged, or rebounded. These are two different ideas that are getting frequently conflated. And, the “second wave” next season could only occur if a person who is not part of the “synchronized quarantine” (i.e. a person from another country) introduces it. The virus has to come from somewhere. We know that the virus originally came from someone eating, or handling, or touching things near wild animals in a Wuhan market (or from a laboratory with infected bats). So, this could be avoided and accounted for in the future.
5. Interestingly (or, unsurprisingly), the SARS outbreak began in China in November, 2002, and was not officially discussed or admitted by Chinese officials until February, 2003- very similar time frames to this event.
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About the Writer
Restructure and reduce business and personal debts; collect debts owed; monetize receivables by selling your invoices: https://www.debt-solutions-attorney.com/
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Neil Siskind is: President of The Siskind Law Firm, https://www.debt-solutions-attorney.com/, focused on debt negotiation and restructuring, debt collection, debt investing, product investments, trademark licensing, and product distribution; Founder & Chairman of The Fatherhood Assignment™, a think tank and advocate for children with absentee fathers; Founder of the global charity marketing initiative, Caring is Free®; Founder of National Fatherhood Day™; Owner & Conservator of The Neil S. Siskind Nature Preserve, over 9 acres of conserved waterfront land along New York’s majestic Hudson River; and author of The Complete Guide To The Ways To Manufacture & Sell Your Products. On December 11, 2017, in his article The Yield Curve Speaketh: Why Stocks Might Crash in Early 2018, Neil Siskind accurately predicted the February, 2018 stock crash, the largest single-day point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s history. All the stock indices are down approximately 6% for 2018. In his September 26, 2018 article, Lots of “Bull” In The Bull Market: Let’s Look At What’s “Really” Growing, Neil Siskind explained that, despite Wall Street’s bullishness, the economic data and stock market underpinnings were in decline, and the economy and stocks were at imminent risk. By the closing of markets on October 23, 2018, the S&P 500 had fallen approximately 7%, with October being the S&P’s worst month since August 2015 (and December being the S&P’s worst month ever), the Nasdaq continues to have its worst month since 2016, and is down approximately 8% from article publication, and the DJIA is having its worst monthly performance since 2008. In 2018, Neil Siskind coined the phrase “synchronized global slowth™” (or “synchronous slowth™”) to describe the occurrence or condition of multiple emerging market and developed market economies commencing a downward trajectory of economic and GDP growth, or actually contracting to a point of slow, stagnant, or negative economic and GDP growth, simultaneously. If you are in need of office space in South Florida, contact Neil Siskind about space availability at The Siskind Executive Office Complex in Boca Raton, FL.
Other Recent Articles by Neil S. Siskind:
Settle Debts, Restructure Debts, Collect Debts, Sell Receivables: Debt Solutions From The Siskind Law Firm- https://www.debt-solutions-attorney.com/