Editorial: California’s sweeping coronavirus restrictions are saving lives

Tribune Content Agency

The future of coronavirus in California is scary. Statewide, counties are reporting steady to sharp increases in confirmed infections, authorities are more worried than ever about the vulnerability of those in nursing homes and hospitals continue to warn of shortages in essential equipment, starting with the ventilators that are crucial to keeping alive people with respiratory diseases like COVID-19.

There are also reasons to believe that “social distancing” edicts are working in slowing the virus’ spread and making it less likely that California’s health systems will be overwhelmed, as has happened in parts of China, Italy, Spain and Iran. There are two data points to consider. Confirmed infections can reflect how widely testing is done and not just the relative health of a state, so some numbers experts focus on coronavirus-related deaths. And statistics compiled by Johns Hopkins University scientists offer evidence that is encouraging for California and other states that were quickest to impose stay in place rules. They have much smaller daily increases in virus deaths than states that waited like New York, New Jersey and Louisiana.

This should guide how government leaders respond, from small-town mayors to big-state governors. Social distancing works. Public activities of all kinds should be discouraged.

California is strategically releasing 3,500 inmates early to reduce prison crowding. Without a U.S. shutdown, other states are behind the curve while time is ticking. This pandemic is scary enough without being magnified by government incompetence.


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