When will the coronavirus threat end?

The coronavirus pandemic has stressed the healthcare system and economy while heightening anxiety around spreading the disease.

Hospitals and health systems in the hardest hit areas across the country are at or near capacity and are planning for ways to continue caring for patients at overflow facilities or makeshift hospital beds. They are short on masks and other personal protective equipment as well as ventilators to treat the most severe cases of COVID-19.

The CDC's modeling estimates in most areas the peak of coronavirus cases may not occur until around May 1, but when will it end?

That is still up for debate. The measures taken to stem the spread of the coronavirus could mean that there are fewer cases overall but prolong the peak date and curve in general. Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, vice provost for global initiatives and chair of the department of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania; Susan Ellenberg, PhD, professor of biostatistics in biostatistics and epidemiology at the Philadelphia-based Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania; and Michael Levy, MD, PhD, director of the NMO Clinic and Research Laboratory and research director of the division of neuroimmunology and neuroinfectious disease at Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital, penned an op-ed in the New York Times on March 17 stating, "Unfortunately, normal is a long way off. We need to be thinking in terms of months, not weeks."

The timeline for China, which was first to experience COVID-19 cases and lockdown Wuhan and cities in the Hubei Province on Jan. 23, has restrictions just beginning to ease two months later. Some schools are re-opening and their makeshift hospitals have closed.

April 1, the article article's authors say, is too aggressive of a timeline for people to expect the restrictions to lift in the U.S. A more reasonable timeline would be mid- to late May for "social distancing" to end. But that doesn't mean the coronavirus will have run its course. Others are projecting the coronavirus may last until a vaccine is developed and administered to millions across the country.

Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that the coronavirus vaccine would take a year to 18 months to develop, according to CSPAN.

The timeline could vary by geography as well. On March 22, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the city should prepare for business closings and to stay at home for months, according to Business Insider. He said at a press conference that it could be four, six or nine months until things returned to normal, citing a lag in the U.S.'s capacity to curb the rate of coronavirus spread. There are more than 15,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in New York.

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