New model shows how deadly lifting Georgia’s lockdown may be (Daily Beast)

Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi are veering toward a terrifyingly premature end to their COVID-19 lockdowns, according to a new pandemic analysis.

Gov. Brian Kemp’s aggressive scheme to lift Georgia out of COVID-19 lockdown may cost many thousands of lives, according to models prepared by epidemiologists and computer scientists at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in partnership with The Daily Beast.

The findings come as governors across the United States aim to restore economic activity following months of pandemic-related infections and over 50,000 deaths — a number widely understood to be an undercount. Meanwhile, over 26 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in recent weeks, a number that is itself a likely undercount of the economic toll.

Georgia’s Kemp has perhaps been the boldest of any governor about moving on, issuing a pair of executive orders allowing fitness centers, tattoo and massage parlors, bowling alleys, and hair salons to reopen last Friday with some mitigation measures. Other businesses, like restaurants and theaters, began opening Monday. The state’s shelter-in-place decree, meanwhile, was slated to expire on Thursday.

Those policies are placing Georgians at spectacular risk, the new models found. 

As of Friday, by official counts in Georgia, at least 871 people statewide had lost their lives to COVID-19. If Georgia had maintained its pre-Friday lockdown policy, the Harvard/MIT team’s simulation — which used data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center and accounts for local demographics and health conditions based on Census and survey data — estimated the state would have logged a total of between 1,004 and 2,922 coronavirus fatalities by June 15. That fatality range, like all such ranges detailed in this article, includes deaths that had already been documented (in this case, 871)…

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