5 Weeks Till Sunrise

The full article, written by Yaneer Bar-Yam, an MIT expert on pandemics and complex systems, is here. These actions will start to take hold globally. I’ve highlighted the information below.

As of today, March 24, 2020, only 17 states have established a legal order to shelter in place which refers to the five week lockdown. See details here.


“All countries, states, towns and households need an immediate five-week lockdown to defeat the coronavirus. During this time, federal, state and local authorities would ensure that all Americans stay home except to obtain food and other essentials, access medical care or do work essential to the functioning of society.”

“Travel would cease: We would close our borders and airports and prohibit all unnecessary travel across state and county (or town) lines within the United States.”

“The U.S. government would have to provide aid to citizens separated from their sources of income and ensure care for vulnerable members of society.”


“Closing schools, bars and movie theaters are good measures, but not enough. Our relaxed approach to social distancing is insufficient to stop the exponential growth of COVID-19.”

“The lockdown will give us time to dramatically scale up our supply of COVID-19 test kits and capacity to process them. If we reduce the number of infections using the lockdown and start a massive testing regime in the United States, we can control COVID-19 after five weeks without such extreme social distancing measures. Isolating sick individuals and their immediate contacts will be enough.”

“The human and economic costs of delaying this lockdown will be staggering. The COVID-19 outbreak has many more cases now than are visible (tip of the iceberg) and they are growing rapidly. We had about 33,500 cases in the United States on Sunday, over 9,000 more cases than the previous day. At this rate, without a lockdown, in one week there will be about 300,000. In two weeks: 3 million.”

“Only 1 in 7 cases require hospitalization and 5% require intensive care with ventilators to survive. There aren’t enough ventilators available.”


“During the first two weeks of a lockdown, infected individuals will either recover from mild cases of COVID-19 at home or seek medical attention for the 14% of cases that are severe.”

“During the third, fourth and fifth weeks, any newly infected family or cohabitants of infected individuals will recover or seek medical attention, and their isolation will prevent further spreading.”

“By the end of the lockdown, the number of infections will be a small fraction of what they are now.”

“The effectiveness of a five-week lockdown will be dramatic and also entirely predictable.”


“We know a U.S. lockdown can work because it worked in China. At the height of its COVID-19 crisis in mid-February, China had locked down an estimated 760 million people, approximately half of its population. This policy was so successful that Wuhan is now much safer from coronavirus than New York City or Washington, D.C. The few new COVID-19 cases in China now stem from foreign travelers rather than local transmission, and all are safely quarantined.”

We all have our own opinions and rightly so. Our inalienable right to free speech is paramount in the United States. It is important to seek out knowledge from those who have dedicated their life to the subject and crisis before us.

Yaneer Bar-Yam is the founding president of the New England Complex Systems Institute, where he is an expert on pandemics and other complex systems.

Yaneer Bar-Yam is spearheading the effort of over 3,000 volunteers working to stop the outbreak at endcoronavirus.org. “Spread knowledge, not the virus.”


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