"Cancel Everything/Social distancing is the only way to stop the coronavirus. We must start immediately."

Writes Yascha Mounk (in The Atlantic). He offers "three crucial facts" that show it's wrong to tell people to "stay calm." The right answer is: Change "our behavior in radical ways—right now."

1. The cases are increasing exponentially. For example: "Italy had 62 identified cases of COVID-19 on the 22nd of February. It had 888 cases by the 29th of February, and 4,636 by the 6th of March."

2. It's "deadlier than the flu, to which the honestly ill-informed and the wantonly irresponsible insist on comparing it." We can't calculate exactly how deadly, but "the news from Italy, another country with a highly developed medical system, has so far been shockingly bad... suggest[ing] a case fatality rate of 5 percent—significantly higher, not lower, than in China."

3. Only "extreme social distancing" has been effective. It worked in China. "This suggests that anyone in a position of power or authority, instead of downplaying the dangers of the coronavirus, should ask people to stay away from public places, cancel big gatherings, and restrict most forms of nonessential travel.... Do you head a sports team? Play your games in front of an empty stadium. Are you organizing a conference? Postpone it until the fall. Do you run a business? Tell your employees to work from home. Are you the principal of a school or the president of a university? Move classes online before your students get sick and infect their frail relatives. Are you running a presidential campaign? Cancel all rallies right now."

In my household, we have radically changed our behavior. There's something I'm letting go that I've looked forward to for almost a year. It was a chance-of-a-lifetime experience on the highest level, and I have significant sunk costs. But I'm being rational and not agonizing about it or bullshitting some special rules for me that could make it okay to go ahead and do my special thing. I know it's way harder for most other people to embrace a lifestyle of social distancing, but I think these personal excuses and justifications amount to nothing when you're talking about participating in the exponential spread of a disease that could kill millions.

Don't be part of the problem. Control yourself.

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