For people who believe trying to contain COVID-19 is too hard, or not worth the socioeconomic tradeoffs, or too uncomfortable, letting the new coronavirus spread freely throughout the population to achieve herd immunity — the point where the virus has saturated a community enough that it is effectively contained — without waiting for a vaccine might sound like a tempting, viable alternative to masks, social distancing, and more stringent measures.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) disagrees, and he explained why with some back-of-the-envelope math in a Twitter thread Monday evening.
The experts say we need 70-80% of the population to get COVID-19 to achieve herd immunity. Let’s assume they’re wrong (it’s certainly possible, they have been before.) Let’s assume they’re being way overly cautious and we actually only need 40% infection for herd immunity.
In Mississippi, 40 percent of the population would equal 1.2 million people getting infected, versus the 36,680 cases that have already left the state's hospitals "stressed to the point of pain," Reeves wrote. To put it another way, Mississippi would need at least 3,187 new COVID-19 cases every day for a year, triple the state's worst days of this pandemic.
Unless you’re willing to go without hospitals after a car wreck or heart attack, we need a different approach. Right now, despite mixed messages at the beginning, it seems like masks are the best bet. They’re a hell of a lot better than widespread shut downs. Please wear one!