102 years ago, the 1918 flu pandemic infected almost one third of the world’s population and killed an estimated 50 million people. Because there was no flu vaccine and no antibiotics, efforts to combat the pandemic were limited to reactive measures: isolation, quarantine, limiting public gatherings, using disinfectants, and promoting good personal hygiene.
A century later, we’re still being reactive in our approach to combating pandemics. We’re using the same strategy that we always have. Don’t get me wrong–responding and reacting to this pandemic is essential, but doing so is not the only role of leadership in guiding our nation through this process. America needs to try something new: being proactive. We need to Test, Trace, and Quarantine. We need to proactively control the CoVid-19 Curve together as one nation.
First, we need to Test. The federal government has decided to end funding for CoVid-19 testing sites on Friday, April 17th, and transition responsibility for maintaining these sites to individual states. Just as we are heading into the peak of cases in Pennsylvania, we will no longer receive federal funding to test people. The federal government needs to immediately retract this decision and fund testing sites nationwide.
Second, we need to Trace. We need to be able to contact people that have come in contact with ill individuals. We need a nationwide system to track the spread of the virus. South Korea has created a contact tracing phone application. The United Kingdom is in the process of doing the same in coordination with Apple and Google. Our federal government could easily create a similar application to notify individuals if they need to be tested, and ensure that infected people do not spread the virus to others.
Finally, we need to Quarantine. Family isolation has successfully saved many lives, in addition to preventing our healthcare system from being overwhelmed by those who have become severely infected with this virus. We need united national leadership that makes it easier for people to make the decision to quarantine. We need continued financial assistance for businesses and individuals. We need nationwide absentee/mail-in ballots for the November election.
None of these measures will be possible without funding and coordination on a national level. If we continue to fight the virus as fifty individual states, we risk being right back where we were in February: behind the curve and starting a second national lock down. We need to fight this virus the “American way,” one nation, indivisible. This is how we save lives. This is how we save our economy.
Please contact your legislator(s) and ask them to put this plan into place immediately. Test. Trace. Quarantine. Together.