Since late September, COVID-19 cases have risen astronomically. Within the last two weeks alone, California has seen more positive cases than ever before, exceeding previous daily case highs. In response to the high case rates, many county officials in the United States, in addition to other countries, put curfews in place to help eliminate non-essential interactions. The goal of these curfews is to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, but are they actually working?
Everyone is encouraged to stay home as much as possible. Counties in France extended curfews in October and areas of Belgium and the Czech Republic (two countries that were hit hard) forced businesses to close at 6 p.m. As of a couple weeks ago, Ohio residents had to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., just like California residents. The only exception to these curfews is if essential workers are traveling to or from work, or if you are traveling to get essential goods or seeking medical care.
What Do These Curfews Aim To Accomplish?
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has detailed over and over again, the primary way COVID-19 spreads is via community transmission. This is why health officials advise that people do not gather indoors with members of other households. The only people you should interact with are the people in your immediate household. The curfews and stay at home orders aim to limit these gatherings. Health experts have warned against intermingling with different households from the beginning of the pandemic. Because most gatherings happen at night when people are off work and want to hang out, experts hope that curfews will prevent that from happening. That being said, it is ultimately up to individuals to make the right call for their own health and the health of others.
Why Are Curfews Happening?
Gatherings between various households have led to more COVID-19 cases and deaths than ever before. This encroaches on maximum hospital bed capacity, and some areas of the world simply do not have enough beds to accommodate the influx of patients. In the case of California, which is home to the highest resident population in the United States, hospitalizations increased 64% in the last two weeks. COVID-19 positivity rates are up by 50% and ICU capacity has become an issue. The state is reporting record high daily case rates, but California isn’t the only state that had to enforce curfews. New York and Ohio also set curfews in mid-November in an effort to reduce congregating for Thanksgiving. The numbers we are now experiencing are the direct results of Thanksgiving gatherings. This is why curfews are in place.
Curfews Can Work, But Only When Done Properly
Experts say that a curfew will work if it is implemented correctly. Most places that enforce curfews do not take the necessary steps to ensure that people follow them. People must be home by 10 p.m., but most places aren’t closing before then. Additionally, there has been pushback from numerous counties and businesses in areas with curfews. Businesses can’t afford to close and some restaurants don’t want to revert back to take-out only because they won’t survive. Other businesses feel that they are operating safely, despite the curfew and stay at home orders. When every business and person cooperates, though, curfews and safer at home orders have proven to flatten curves.
Back in March, Wuhan implemented their first lockdown. One person from each household was allowed to leave the house once a week to get food. This seems intense, but it worked and Wuhan recorded the first day without new COVID-19 cases by the end of March. Curfews are in place to help asymptomatic and healthy people from mingling at bars, restaurants, and clubs. These can easily turn into super spreader events, so that’s why officials issued curfews.
On the one hand, it would help tremendously if there was mandate that forced everything and everyone to cooperate. On the other hand, nobody wants to seem authoritarian. You can only push the public so far before they revolt. All that we can do is try our best to stay inside and keep to ourselves until cases go down. If we work together, we can overcome great things.