A sharp, globally synchronized, COVID-19-related slowdown is underway. Because most governments have been slow to respond, their policy options have narrowed. In order to avoid overwhelming their healthcare systems, they have turned to various degrees of social distancing including its extreme form – countrywide, strict home confinement. Since individuals who stay at home can neither transmit nor acquire the virus, this radical measure is likely to bring about a decline in new cases. China and increasingly Italy, two countries that have implemented mass quarantines (Chart 1), have demonstrated as much.
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