WaPo published an interesting opinion piece yesterday entitled: “We could stop the pandemic by July 4 if the government took these steps.” Subtitle: “A $74 billion investment in testing, tracing and isolation could rescue the economy — quickly.”
The authors propose categorizing regions as green, yellow or red, depending on infection rates, with the severity of regional social distancing measures tied to the level of risk. People who need to isolate would be paid a stipend to stay home. Here’s an excerpt:
Most Americans — about 298 million — live in yellow zones, where disease prevalence is between .002 percent and 1 percent. But even in yellow zones, the economy could safely reopen with aggressive testing and tracing, coupled with safety measures including mandatory masks. In South Korea, during the peak of its outbreak, it took 25 tests to detect one positive case, and the case fatality rate was 1 percent. Following this model, yellow zones would require 2,500 tests for every daily death. To contain spread, yellow zones also would ramp up contact tracing until a team is available for every new daily coronavirus case. After one tracer conducts an interview, the team would spend 12 hours identifying all those at risk. Speed matters, because the virus spreads quickly; three days is useless for tracing. (Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., are all yellow zones.)
A disease prevalence greater than 1 percent defines red zones. Today, 30 million Americans live in such hot spots — which include Detroit, New Jersey, New Orleans and New York City. In addition to the yellow-zone interventions, these places require stay-at-home orders. But by strictly following guidelines for testing and tracing, red zones could turn yellow within four weeks, moving steadfastly from lockdown to liberty.
Getting to green nationwide is possible by the end of the summer, but it requires ramping up testing radically. The United States now administers more than 300,000 tests a day, but according to our guidelines, 5 million a day are needed (for two to three months). It’s an achievable goal. Researchers estimate that the current system has a latent capacity to produce 2 million tests a day, and a surge in federal funding would spur companies to increase capacity. The key is to do it now, before manageable yellow zones deteriorate to economically ruinous red zones.
I have no idea how feasible this plan is, but the authors say countries that have controlled the spread a lot better than the U.S. have used the same tactics. Such a plan almost certainly won’t be implemented here because the president is a narcissist who thinks positive tests reflect poorly on him (and they do!) and therefore wants to limit testing. He’s said so in public several times. It’s every bit as dumb as a knocked-up teenager avoiding a pregnancy test because no test, no baby.
Speaking of absurdities, in the morning thread, Kay pointed out the preposterous assumptions that underlie wingnut vilification of Democratic governors for taking virus containment measures:
They believe that governors instituted stay at home orders because they all crave authoritarian control and dream of denying people the right to go get a tattoo.
But that isn’t what governors want- governors want 3% unemployment and a humming economy and no new, huge problems on their plate. Governors want an easier job, not a harder job- like everyone else. That’s what they want. That’s what the Michigan governor wants, Ohio, California, doesn’t matter.
The idea that they got the power to shut your diner down and in exchange they got 20% unemployment, imploding state budgets, HUGE daily problems to solve and they sought out that exchange is just insane.
Yes, it really is insane, and Trump encourages this disordered thinking. On the other side of that same coin, Trump and his flunkies won’t take any aggressive measures to control the pandemic and therefore have a chance of economic recovery, even though that is obviously the best outcome for themselves AND everyone else. So, it’s magical thinking and idiocy all around, and those views are apparently going to prevail. We really are living in a failed state.