In a Washington Post column, Dr leana Wen, a former Baltimore health commissioner, offers three options for how the United States should respond to the pandemic. This may sound like an attempt to oversimplify a complex situation, but as people have heard from some of the top experts in the United States and around the world, the solution is not that complex; people just need to be willing to change their behavior for weeks.
The first (and most terrifying) scenario is that the American people stick to the status quo without any real national strategy. Florida, Texas, Arizona and other states with rising infection rates continue to maintain the status quo as their health systems reach saturation, and cracks begin to appear as doctors decide who lives and who dies. This has already happened in some cities. In the end, even non covid patients will not be able to get the care they need, and at the same time, the economic turmoil has intensified as millions of Americans have lost their jobs.
Instead, it would involve a full-scale shutdown, duplicating other countries now safe reopening practices, earlier this year, when the US federal government was in trouble. People follow home orders and stay at home for four to six weeks to flatten the curve.. As leana points out, this may sound familiar, because it was a plan in the spring, and those places that really implement it, including New York State, now have the lowest infection rate in the United States.
Sadly, leana said a nationwide shutdown sounds like the most unlikely strategy given the governments reckless insistence on reopening the economy as soon as possible.
Therefore, the last scenario described by leana may be the most feasible. Instead of pretending that the virus doesnt exist or shutting everything down, the United States can take action against the worst hit states. For example, Texas could set a goal of reducing its infection rate to less than 5% and issue state wide home orders until the state reaches its benchmark. It seems impossible to try a full-scale shutdown again, but the worst states can at least try to contain the exponential and lethal growth of the virus.
Whatever the US does, the next few weeks will be crucial. ICU Wards in Texas and Florida are filling up, while other southern and western states are breaking their own record of new confirmed cases in a single day.
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