The news from around the country, and especially from the state of Florida, on Thursday was a torrent of announcements of closures and postponements. Leading the news was that Florida governor Ron DeSantis recommended that large events in his state close their doors in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, Disney and other Florida attractions announced they were closing their doors. The NBA, with franchises in Orlando and Miami, is taking at least a month off. Major League Baseball, which plays hundreds of spring training games in Florida and has teams in Tampa Bay and Miami, is hitting pause on its season. The NCAA has cancelled its March Madness basketball tournaments. All Florida state universities and some private schools in Florida are going to all-online courses. President Trump announced that his office has shut down much travel from Europe. Congress, in a rare show of bipartisanship, is working on emergency measures to fund everything from test kits—the United States has very limited testing capability—to funding meal programs for kids. And this is a fraction of all of the things that happened on Thursday and, again, much of it happened in Florida.
All of this, of course, is in an effort to stem the growth of COVID-19 in the United States, where until recently there has been little official response to the crisis. It has become clear, based on the data from other countries, including China and Italy, that while stopping the spread of the disease might be impossible, slowing its growth is critical to allowing our infrastructure to address the critical needs of the people who are going to get this virus. The way to do this is clear. It is what is known as “social distancing,” a strategy of keeping people away from each to slow the spread the of disease as much as possible.