Sweden catch your eye? Not so fast.

Here’s What Actually Helps Countries Relax Distancing And Lead Semi-Normal Lives

America chose an approach that allows more autonomy but is less effective, more expensive, and likely to lead to higher case counts and longer distancing. If we don’t like our results, we can change course, but we did indeed choose this reality.

E. Rosalie
4 min readApr 24, 2020


April 1-Apr 23, 2020

Looking at countries relaxing distancing and thinking it could work for us, is a bit like seeing a marathon runner eating cake and thinking it’s proof the doctor lied about cake. If you don’t adopt the running to go with it, you may find you don’t like the results.

We elected to forgo working out (not to act early with coordinated effort) and cake (fewer cases, less money lost, shorter distancing) while other countries elected to work out and eat cake.

We choose a decentralized approach and that came with negatives. Whether or not they are worth it is another subject. We cannot look at a marathoner eating cake and think this is proof the doctors were wrong about cake. If you simply eat the cake and neglect the running, you may not like your results.

Swedish officials strongly disagree that life has gone on as normal, and still their case counts are skyrocketing. It’s a testament that no one should forgo formal distancing, although it’s true they practiced a remarkable degree of distancing with government suggestion.

This is the same graph as the one directly below it, except this one doesn’t have the US
Sweden looks better next to the US. This is the exact same graph as above, just the US added.

Even if their approach had worked as some believe it has, the US differs far too much for us to assume the same approach could work here.

  • Community-oriented Swedes followed recommendations to stay home when possible — officials confirmed significant drops in travel via cell towers
  • more people work from home



E. Rosalie

Disasters & information (public health + nat sec) | Johns Hopkins alum | @COVID19Tracking alum | Mapping medical misinfo 💉 and information disorder