DAVE ROSS

UW modelers working to figure out when (and if) country can reopen

Apr 10, 2020, 8:46 AM | Updated: 10:20 am

reopening economy...

UW is now working to help figure out when the economy can be reopened. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

The University of Washington’s model has quickly become the national standard for predicting the future of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. Now, the UW is working to develop a new model to figure out when the country’s economy can begin to reopen.

Understanding how researchers are predicting spread of coronavirus

“We will model ‘what if’ scenarios: If we go back to what we call normal by the first of May, by the second week of May, and so on,” Dr. Ali Mokdad told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross.

Dr. Mokdad and his team at the UW Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation are looking to collate these “what if” scenarios to give us a sense of what social distancing measures — if any — we can relax at any given time, and when it might be safe to do so.

That said, none of that will matter if the U.S. doesn’t see sizable improvements to its testing and tracking infrastructure.

“The most important part is our ability to do testing and find out who’s infected,” Mokdad said. “Our public system has to be able to trace these cases, who they came in contact with, and do the proper isolation.”

“If we don’t have these measures, we cannot open business as soon as we’re hoping to,” he added.

Despite that advice, President Trump recently questioned the need for more widespread testing as a requirement for reopening the economy.

“Do you need it?” he posited at Thursday’s White House coronavirus task force briefing. “No. Is it a nice thing to do? Yes.”

Ross: If the economy does reopen in May, there’ll be a catch

For Dr. Mokdad and many other health experts, though, testing is an essential part of mitigating a scenario where the virus rebounds after we relax social distancing measures.

“I’m very cautious right now because I don’t want a setback,” he noted.

So, how expansive will testing need to be in order to safely reopen the economy? According to Mokdad, the U.S. will need a system where anyone can access instant, convenient tests anywhere across the country.

“Unless we are comfortable that all the tests we need are available where they need to be, we shouldn’t consider going back to normal,” he warned.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave Ross

luxury lane toll...

Dave Ross

Ross: Let the rich pay the exorbitant ‘luxury lane’ toll prices

The new higher tolls for solo drivers in the luxury lane are hitting the $15 maximum every rush hour, all to save exactly three minutes of driving.

5 days ago

trump belltown hellcat...

Dave Ross

Ross: If popularity creates immunity, maybe the ‘Belltown Hellcat Bandit’ should run for president

A lot of completely normal Americans believe Trump should have gone free, and he probably will because of his popularity.

11 days ago

forever chemicals living defensively...

Dave Ross

Ross: Living defensively has its limits when facing ‘forever chemicals’

The trouble is that "living defensively" has its limits – as we heard when 3M lost control of its "forever chemicals."

23 days ago

Image: In this photo illustration, the logos of social media applications Instagram, Facebook, Link...

Dave Ross

Ross: If you hope the government will save kids from social media, think again

Social media firm TikTok must sell itself to a non-Chinese company, or it goes dark in the U.S. But that law is headed straight to court.

25 days ago

kristi noem book...

Dave Ross

Ross: Gov. Kristi Noem’s new book includes alleged meetings with dictators, dead dogs

Did South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as she claims in her new book?

1 month ago

Image: Sound Transit tested train service on the 2 Line between southern Bellevue and Microsoft for...

Dave Ross

Ross: We built it, and they had better come

About 17,500 people attended the opening of the Eastside light rail line. It shows a curiosity about getting to Redmond without driving there.

1 month ago

UW modelers working to figure out when (and if) country can reopen