If we were being as candid in the U.S., each of us might be asking ourselves the herd immunity question: Do I belong among the 60% who need to get infected or the 40% who should avoid exposure at all cost until the epidemic snuffs itself out? I tend to think of myself as on the bubble. That means weighing the chances of a severe illness against the advantages of putting the disease behind me and no longer being a threat to others.

“Flatten the curve,” of course, does not foreclose the possibility of happy surprises. Christmas could come early. A tentative discovery is that half or more of cases are symptomless. Many more people may have been infected than we realize. If so, herd immunity may be nearer than we think (and less avoidable too), and the death rate may be lower than we fear…

I wonder what will happen if most Americans realize they are not being kept safe from the illness, the timing of their infection is merely being managed. If our lockdown goes on much longer, a divide could emerge between the lucky 29% who can work at home and live comfortably, versus the 71% who just lost their jobs or must face the virus to earn a paycheck. The latter category includes thousands of health-care workers manning the battle stations. Social solidarity can be a perishable flower—one more reason for thinking an endgame that comes sooner rather than later is to be preferred.