Could Mass Quarantines in the U.S. Work? – Health Expert Explains What You Need to Know | WIRED

as the novel coronavirus continues to spread around the world officials are turning to increasingly extreme measures to slow it down Ramin Ascencio is in China reporting on a city quarantined in all trains and planes out of that city halted deserted streets telling the story of a country on

lockdown while we haven't gone that far in the US officials here are encouraging people to stay at home and to cancel classes and public gatherings but are we also heading towards mass quarantines and would they even work here to find out more we spoke to Lawrence Boston he's

a professor of global health law at Georgetown University I think the start didn't be helpful to define exactly what a quarantine is quarantine is when you're not known to be infected but you've been exposed to somebody who is infected I'm so you say you just shook hands with

somebody that had Copeland you don't necessarily have it but we will quarantine you for the longest period of incubation of the disease and in this case that's 14 days masked quarantine is when we guard entry and exit from a city or a town and we confine everybody within

those borders self quarantine or isolation is completely different than mass quarantine in the United States during covered and we've seen the largest federal quarantine in recent history some of better vaccum is from Wuhan but some have been people who were rescued off of the Grand Princess just docked

now in Oakland and also Diamond Princess and I of Japan and then we evacuated our citizens back to the United States so we haven't seen anything like that in recent history we've only seen self quarantine or isolation in the United States and I can see this increasing exponentially

that people shelter in place mostly in their apartments in their homes that can be either voluntary or it might be that you were ordered by force of water but either way it applies to individuals that's what self quarantine or isolation is and how does that compare to something

like social distancing social distancing is quite different we use social distancing irrespective of whether you've been infected or exposed to a disease at that stage we're onto what public health people call mitigation and all that means is that we're trying to slow the spread of the infection and

so social distancing measures are things like school closures postponing or canceling large gatherings of things like political rallies it's just a measure we try to separate the population so that they're not you know really being exposed to one another or not they're not you know mingling in crowded

spaces what we want to do is we want to buy ourselves some time so looking specifically at what happened and Wuhan in your opinion does that look to have been a successful quarantine and maybe what metrics do you look at when determining if it was in fact successful

you have to remember this was a mass quarantine that affected 60 million people it was unprecedented I was very worried about it because it congregated a lot of people together and grew on but recently the World Health Organization has praised China they've said that the rest of the

world should use the China model I have grave doubts about that because it's true that cases have gone down in China but they've also gone down in South Korea so I don't know that you need those draconian measures but you know let's even assume for the moment that

it was effective there's still a big cost we all know about the economic cost the stock markets are going down supply chains are disrupted work environments and workers are disrupted but there are also enormous human rights implications it's a balance we have to balance public health with civil

liberties and you people have asked me you know could we have a mass quarantine or a lockdown in the United States could we lock down in New York City um and I think it's inconceivable in the United States even though we are seeing it in another liberal democracy

which is intially Americans wouldn't accept a degree of social control that was needed in China or the intrusive surveillance we need to be sensible so what then should our overall goal be here and I think this would be a good opportunity to talk about what we mean by

flattening the curve what we need to do is try it in true public health measures we need to really ramp up our diagnostic testing we also need to test not patients but in random samples in the community so that we can see what's going on silently but below

the radar as I suspect we have a lot of silent transmission going on we're gonna need them to isolate people who are sick quarantined those who've been exposed I think we're gonna probably need to do school closures and closures and cancellations of public events those are the kinds

of things we need to do and if we could do those kinds of social distance and isolation keeping people away from one another we would flatten the curve in other words instead of pieces going up up up up we would bend it to flatten it out a bit

and that buys us time because no days weeks matter it buys us time to actually use our public health tools but it also buys us time to develop effective specific treatments and then ultimately it buys us a little more time to get you know what is the Holy

Grail which is a vaccine but that probably won't be for another year to a year and a half in your opinion is it still possible for us in the United States to prevent a kind of worst-case scenario with this outbreak but I think if we rapidly do a

surge response surge funding and do the kinds of measures we've been talking about like isolation social distancing more testing contact tracing I think we standard you know reasonable chance of bringing you numbers down you do have good public health agencies and we need to use them with science-based

evidence-based approaches in a proportion way thank you very much for joining us today okay thank you take care [Music]

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