it's simple math
July 14, 2020

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.

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.

And even if you were willing to stomach 1.2 million to 2.4 million Mississippi residents getting infected with the virus, a study from King's College in London released Monday suggested people may lose their COVID-19 immunity within months, making herd immunity moot. Peter Weber

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