The past few weeks of social distancing have been brutal for people’s professional lives, financial situations and mental and emotional health — and that’s before we get to the existential fear of a dangerous virus roaming the globe. But now, after weeks of harsh regulations and economic turmoil, experts are starting to see results. And what they see is promising.
There are a few ways of calculating the data, but one of the most interesting comes from a tech company called Kinsa Health, which makes wifi-connected thermometers. They used the health information in their database to create a national map of fever levels and have been able to monitor a steady decline across the U.S. Since then, health departments in hard-hit states like New York and Washington have been able to confirm their preliminary findings. Long story short: staying home is saving lives.
There were two exceptions to the downward trend. One was in New Mexico, which had implemented stay-at-home orders only the day before reporting. The other was in Louisiana, which experts attribute to an explosive spread following Mardi Gras.
But in general, fevers are going down. Doctors in California are reporting that their current number of cases fall towards the lower end of projected models.
The New York Times speculates that’s part of the reason President Donald Trump extended social distancing guidelines through the end of April. There’s now clear evidence that the restrictions, extreme as they are, are doing what they’re supposed to do. “I’m very impressed by this,” Dr. William Schaffner, a preventive medicine expert at Vanderbilt University, told the New York Times. “It looks like a way to prove that social distancing works.”
“But it does shows that it takes the most restrictive measures to make a real difference,” he added.
So keep it up, everyone. Social distancing isn’t easy, but saving lives never was.