Independence by July 4
We want to get everyone safely back to work and out of their homes by Independence Day. This might sound farfetched, but it is not impossible. What we need to do is TEST, TEST, TEST. Below, we have outlined how we get our Independence by Independence Day.
Many policy recommendations have been floated, but to reopen safely and stay open we need a nationally coordinated effort – aggressive COVID-19 testing combined with a sensible, staggered, back-to-work plan. We recommend a three-step plan to get Georgia, and the rest of the country, back to work.
Step 1: Ramp up production of COVID-19 testing kits. While we hunker down (for about 3 more weeks), the Government can invoke the Defense Protection Act to transform current manufacturing centers (diagnostic kit makers such as: strep-tests, flu-tests, pregnancy-tests) to covid-19 test-making centers. The FDA has approved a new saliva-based test, that is easier to administer, requires less PPE, and provides results almost instantly.
Step 2: Implement wide-spread testing. This will start with the 40% of the workforce that is already out there, performing essential services right now. This includes healthcare workers, delivery services, food service, grocery clerks, and more. If these workers contract the virus and can no longer work, services around the country will grind to a halt. Over 25% of COVID-19 carriers do not display symptoms, thus essential service workers can unintentionally infect people they interact with. Temperature checks will not identify sick individuals as asymptomatic individuals often do not develop fevers. Regular and expansive testing is key to a stable essential workforce.
Step 3: Release the rest of us in stages. We need to stagger release of self-isolating workers, re-employed workers, and newly unemployed workers. Once we have established regular testing and stabilized the essential workforce, we can begin staggered testing and release of self-isolating workers. With careful testing and monitoring we can slowly release the workforce without creating a spike in infections. We can also re-employ some of the thousands of newly unemployed workers by training them to complete essential tasks in case essential workers contract the virus. While reopening, it is important to first focus on people who cannot work from home, people who can be easily spaced, and people who free others to work. We can start with construction and maintenance, followed by childcare and teachers, then restaurants at partial-capacity, and lastly professions that require direct person-to person contact such as gyms, salons and massage therapists. Office workers, who can easily work from home, will be the last to return.
Good control of COVID-19 hinges on detecting the virus as quickly as possible. According to the CDC – we are only providing about 10,000 tests a day right now. There are over 350 million Americans, so those numbers are not going to cut it. We need the government to take action to protect the citizens so we can reclaim our nation.
This is America. 50 years ago, we landed people on the moon with computers less powerful then cell phones. We can get to appropriate testing capacity within 3 weeks if the whole country works together to make it happen. This is what we do. On the 51st anniversary of the moon landing (July 20th) let’s make our country safe enough to have a BBQ with our neighbors (not a blowout 100-person bash – but something).