How much longer should COVID-19 shutdowns last?

Reopening map
A color-coded map from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation shows when states are projected to reach thresholds for easing social distancing restrictions. (IHME Graphic)

The University of Washington epidemiologists who set up a widely watched model projecting the future course of the coronavirus outbreak have translated those projections into suggested time frames for loosening strict shelter-at-home orders across the country.

For Washington state, that time frame is the week of May 18, which is two weeks longer than the current expiration date for Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order.

Based on the current projections from UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, four states — Montana, Vermont, West Virginia and Hawaii — could loosen their restrictions as early as the week of May 4. Other states, ranging from Massachusetts and North Dakota to Arizona, may have to wait until the week of June 8 or later.

Those projected dates could shift, of course, depending on how the institute tweaks its models, which it’s done repeatedly over the past month. And in the end, it’s up to the nation’s governors, not researchers, to determine how strict their social distancing policies are.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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