The coronavirus pandemic has caused the closure of most American movie theaters and entertainment venues. Some cities — such as New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco — have even weighed the possibility of handing down executive orders essentially forcing residents to shelter in place. As it stands now, the likes of AMC, Regal, Cinemark, and Alamo Drafthouse have all temporarily closed their doors. Hollywood is in disarray as most tentpoles set for release over the coming weeks have been indefinitely delayed. Major comic conventions across the country have shifted their entire events until some point later in the year.
And this could all just be the beginning. A dire new report from London's Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team has been circulating online and it has most of us asking when a pandemic like this could start clearing up. If you were hoping to answer that question with "soon," you might be out of luck.
As you've likely heard on the news, social distancing is a major key in helping stop something like the spread of the coronavirus and when it comes to that, the Imperial College report suggests it could take upwards of 18 months — or at least until an effective vaccine is created. The academics suggest that will take between a year and 18 months.
"The major challenge of suppression is that this type of intensive intervention package – or something equivalently effective at reducing transmission – will need to be maintained until a vaccine becomes available (potentially 18 months or more) – given that we predict that transmission will quickly rebound if interventions are relaxed," the report reads.
It adds, "We show that intermittent social distancing – triggered by trends in disease surveillance – may allow interventions to be relaxed temporarily in relative short time windows, but measures will need to be reintroduced if or when case numbers rebound. Last, while experience in China and now South Korea show that suppression is possible in the short term, it remains to be seen whether it is possible long-term, and whether the social and economic costs of the interventions adopted thus far can be reduced."
We're no health officials here, in case you didn't know. But a report like this doesn't seem to bode well for the theatre industry and convention circuit. While most movies between now and May have been postponed, it looks like that time could expand far past May and into the summer.
We don't want to fear-monger or cause additional anxiety, but we're actively living in an unprecedented scenario. That might mean we may all have to give up a few of the activities each and every one of us love to help the greater good. At least there's always Netflix and comics to help keep you at ease in the coming weeks.
Cover photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images