10-4: How to Reopen the Economy by Exploiting the Coronavirus’s Weak Spot

Uri Alon, Ron Milo and Eran Yashiv in the New York Times:

If we cannot resume economic activity without causing a resurgence of Covid-19 infections, we face a grim, unpredictable future of opening and closing schools and businesses.

We can find a way out of this dilemma by exploiting a key property of the virus: its latent period — the three-day delay on average between the time a person is infected and the time he or she can infect others.

People can work in two-week cycles, on the job for four days then, by the time they might become infectious, 10 days at home in lockdown. The strategy works even better when the population is split into two groups of households working alternating weeks.

Austrian school officials will adopt a simple version — with two groups of students attending school for five days every two weeks — starting May 18.

Models we created at the Weizmann Institute in Israel predict that this two-week cycle can reduce the virus’s reproduction number — the average number of people infected by each infected person — below one. So a 10-4 cycle could suppress the epidemic while allowing sustainable economic activity.

More here.

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