Tuesday/Thursday shutdowns as a reduced economic impact alternative for epidemic control

*By Neil Stacey*

Total isolation and quarantine are being deployed in citiesaffected by the COVID-19 infection. These measures, while effective, have devastating socio-economic consequences. An alternative method which could achieve a major reduction in the infection's basic reproduction rate but with less economic impact would be to impose shutdowns on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If infections were solely through direct contact, this would simply reduce workweek potentially infectious contacts (PICs) by 40% - however, the virus is believed to survive outside the body for 36 hours or longer, and hence PICs arise in a secondary fashion, albeit presumably at a reduced rate. Assuming an exponential decline in PICs over time, these second-day PICs will be roughly half as frequent as day-one contacts and hence, bundling variables into an arbitrary scaling factor x and assigning a value of 2x to the number of direct contacts occurring in one day, then a typical workweek would present the following distribution of PICs: 2x, 3x, 3x, 3x, 3x. A workweek with closures on Tuesdays and Thursdays would instead present a distribution of 2x, 0, 2x, 0, 2x; just 43% of the typical workweek. This is potentially sufficient to lower the reproduction rate below 1, thereby containing the epidemic.