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Study: Social Distancing May Be Necessary Through 2022

A new analysis suggests at least intermittent social distancing could be necessary until 2022 to keep the virus from resurging.
Posted at 9:07 PM, Apr 14, 2020

A new study suggests the U.S. may need to continue social distancing for at least the next two years.

Researchers from Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health released an analysis Tuesday that outlined how several different factors might impact the coronavirus in the near future.

They wrote, "Intermittent distancing may be required into 2022 unless critical care capacity is increased substantially or a treatment or vaccine becomes available."

Researchers looked at several hypothetical scenarios the coronavirus could cause in coming years. One scenario considered that if the virus is seasonal, people would need to practice social distancing during peak times to avoid overwhelming health care systems.

But the researchers also noted that extreme social distancing or failing to find the right balance could actually make things worse by limiting potential herd immunity.

They said they didn't want to comment on whether their suggestions were economically feasible, but pointed to "the potentially catastrophic burden on the healthcare system ... if distancing is poorly effective and-or not sustained for long enough."

As of Tuesday, there were nearly 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, and more than 600,000 were in the U.S.