As Donald Trump continues to focus on his TV ratings amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of governors, former government officials, disease specialists, and nonprofits have teamed up to unveil a national plan to fight the coronavirus pandemic in the United States and return Americans to jobs and classrooms, The Washington Post reported Friday.
According to The Post, the group is “pursuing a strategy that relies on the three pillars of disease control: Ramp up testing to identify people who are infected. Find everyone they interact with by deploying contact tracing on a scale America has never attempted before. And focus restrictions more narrowly on the infected and their contacts so the rest of society doesn’t have to stay in permanent lockdown.”
However, as the news outlet points out, there is no evidence yet the White House will pursue such a strategy, noting that “the president and his top advisers have fixated almost exclusively on plans to reopen the U.S. economy by the end of the month, though they haven’t detailed how they will do so without triggering another outbreak.”
Citing administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the newspaper reports that the White House has made “a deliberate political calculation” that it will better serve Trump’s interest to put the responsibility on governors — rather than the federal government — to figure out how to move ahead.
“It’s mind-boggling, actually, the degree of disorganization,” said Tom Frieden, former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director,” The Post writes.
“The federal government has already squandered February and March, he noted, committing epic failures on testing kits, ventilator supply, protective equipment for health workers and contradictory public health communication. The next failure is already on its way, Frieden said, because “we’re not doing the things we need to be doing in April.”
In recent days, dozens of leading voices have coalesced around the test-trace-quarantine framework.
On Wednesday, former President Barack Obama weighed in, tweeting, “Social distancing bends the curve and relieves some pressure … But in order to shift off current policies, the key will be a robust system of testing and monitoring — something we have yet to put in place nationwide.”
And Friday, Apple and Google unveiled a joint effort on new tools that would use smartphones to aid in contact tracing.
WaPo notes that it remains unclear whether this emerging plan can succeed without the backing of the federal government because “without substantial federal funding, states’ efforts will only go so far.”
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