For these reasons, it’s essential for the U.S. to move rapidly away from an unrealistic checklist of public health milestones and to focus instead on the specific biology of the new coronavirus and specific evidence of how Covid-19 spreads. If we do that, we’ll find that we have better options to reopen the economy than we once believed.
The starting point for a more realistic strategy is the key fact that not everyone is equally susceptible to hospitalization and death due to Covid-19. There is considerable evidence that younger people largely avoid the worst health outcomes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those over the age of 65 are 22 times more likely to die of Covid-19 than those under 55.
That is not to say that younger people are invulnerable. We’ve seen significant numbers of deaths among those of middle age and above who suffer from chronic diseases like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and kidney failure. Men appear to have nearly twice the fatality rate of women.
Still, the much lower incidence of death among younger people warrants a reconsideration of our one-size-fits-all approach to stay-at-home policies, especially outside the hard-hit tri-state region of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.