Although it remains to be seen how well social distancing works, it seems like it's VERY effective at reducing the spread of diseases. Check out this excellent post and graphic on the topic. Which has me thinking: should we have an annual quarantine?  In other words, a coordinated national 4 day period every year in early February (typically the peak of cold and flu seasons) where we practice isolation to stop the spread of flu and other viruses?

Would it work?

  1. Unlike COVID-19, the flu virus only lives for a few hours on surfaces ; you are then maximally contagious for about 3-4 days.
  2. Flu is expensive for our country: hospital visits, medications, and other direct impacts are estimated to cost the US $11 billion dollars per year.  Not to mention - tens of thousands of people are killed and millions are infected and impaired.  Lesser circulating sicknesses (e.g. colds) compromise parent work schedules, kids learning, day care workers, and more.

How would it be implemented?

We would pick a weekend in early February, and add the Friday/Monday (this could possibly overlap with an existing holiday).  Close all bars, restaurants, concert venues, gyms, retailers, offices, and schools.  Use the "Shelter In Place" guidelines currently in effect in San Francisco as a guideline - which are restrictive but manageable.  The weekend would start with a massive disinfection/cleaning, four days of isolation in your home, and then we re-emerge on Tuesday celebrating our connection and telling our best quarantine stories.

How would we prepare?

Maybe Netflix could release their most binge-worthy shows or have free membership during the annual quarantine.  Schools can prepare a two day lesson plan.  Chefs can be on air 24/7 teaching new things to cook.  Gyms go online.  Who knows what other ideas would emerge once our creativity gets a hold of us!And at the other side - a radical reduction in colds and flu for the rest of the season.  Healthier and happier kids and families.  And maybe a little "annual quarantine" baby boom every November...What do you think?