Did Georgia End Their Lockdown Too Early? What About Denmark?

Starting on Apr 24, Georgia rather dramatically ended most of their restrictions on what businesses could be open, which I am for purposes of brevity here calling "ending their lockdown". We could debate the semantics of exactly whether it should have been called a lockdown, and whether it totally ended, but for purposes of this analysis it only matters what day things changed in the direction of loosening up.

Now, the fact that mortality didn't immediately shoot up should not be surprising. It takes time to catch the virus, it takes a few days to get sick, it takes at least a few days after you get sick before you die (if you're going to). However, it has now been over three weeks, so that should be long enough to begin to see a clear signal of things getting worse again, if that's what is going to happen as a result. One can always do special pleading for one's theory, of course, but this seems to me a reasonable inference. So, what have we actually seen happen?

To be blunt, the honest answer is "not much". This not only implies that it was not premature to end the lockdown, it calls into question the wisdom of having it in the first place.

Of course, there is another possibility (besides the special pleading one of "it will be a disaster eventually, just you wait"). It is possible that the lockdown was simply done so poorly, a "leaky" lockdown with too many exceptions to be effective, and that's why we don't see any impact from ending it. I'm not sure how one would test this theory, but to be honest I think it is entirely plausible. Plausible is a fancy word for 'nothing but an opinion', though, so I'll have to leave that to the reader to decide.

On April 15, the nation of Denmark reopened their elementary schools. Not every parent was willing to send their children back to school, and there were protocol changes (no high-fiveing your friends, for example), but it was a rather important and significant (and controversial) change. So, a little over four weeks on, what impact do we see in Denmark's mortality from Covid-19?

Pretty much the same story, except maybe even more clearly negative. Again, you can spin this either way; either "we never should have closed" or "we did such a poor job of closing that it didn't even make a difference". But in regards to reopening, it seems to be pretty clear that Denmark has not seen any upsurge in mortality, and it's been over four weeks now.

There are some other cases of states in the U.S. or nations in Europe re-opening, plus New Zealand has reopened (but then they never did have much of a problem, much like the rest of east Asia, compared to the U.S. or especially to western Europe). But Georgia and Denmark are the only cases I know of for reopening where we've had enough time pass that we should have seen an increase in mortality by now, if it were going to happen as a result of the policy change.

In a month's time, of course, we will likely have a whole lot more data to look at. Let's hope it's mostly all small numbers.