These social distancing measures take time to work. The impact of big interventions in China took about three weeks to start to reverse things. And then their situation got better. In the USA, we’re only about 10 days into large scale social distancing, depending on the state.

To drop all these measures soon would be to accept that COVID-19 patients will get sick in extraordinary numbers all over the country, far beyond what the U.S. health care system could bear. Many reputable models predict that health care systems will be completely overwhelmed by the peak of cases if social distancing is not maintained.

If hospitals become completely overwhelmed, they could struggle to provide even oxygen for some or many of the 15% of COVID-19 cases expected to be “severely ill,” and the case fatality rate for COVID-19 could far exceed 1%. Beleaguered hospitals also might not be able to provide care for other serious and life-threatening conditions.