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Why Daily Virus Numbers Mean Little in Post-Lockdown Stakes

  • Scientists say averages, surveys better to assess progress
  • Inconsistent testing, time lags make daily numbers unreliable
Iran Creates Coronavirus Hospital In Largest Mall
Photographer: Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg
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Wondering whether it’s safe to emerge from lockdown? Watching the daily coronavirus case trackers won’t help much. A better indication might come from the length of the lines outside the doctor’s office.

To strike the right balance between restarting the economy and guarding against new waves of the pandemic, countries must focus on more than daily infection numbers and death tolls, according to scientists. That’s because these are lagging indicators, showing the virus’s trajectory days or even weeks ago. The actual danger level in real time is better seen in more direct indicators.