UPDATE: Governor Ducey has announced plans to extend shelter at home orders until May 15, with modifications (PDF link). This allows certain retail business to reopen, but provides to resources for those business to meet recommendations for safety and infection control. Here is the video of the announcement of the new policy:
There are plans (from the White House) and more plans (from AEI [right-leaning], CAP [left-leaning], Harvard, and Nobelists), to safely re-open the economy. They are all difficult, long, expensive, and frankly frightening.
Anyone who advocates for a quick, easy, and costless re-opening of America’s normal economic life is a fool, a demagogue, or simply ignorant of the fact this virus has already permanently altered our way of life. Forever, most likely. If not after this pandemic, then after the next one.
I have read all those plans, and more. Yet, I am certainly no expert, and I don’t have all the answers (nobody really does), but I can easily identify commonalities among all those plans by experts, think tanks, and government. Those commonalities and common sense provide a very rough roadmap back to something resembling normal economic life for Arizona’s state leadership to follow. I have written a series of posts with concrete suggestions for our Governor to consider in building an expanded public health infrastructure responsive to our need.
Testing. Testing. Testing.
We need to invest very seriously and long-term in testing facilities, materiel, and personnel. We need to target our limited testing resources at those most at risk of infection and consequent death and sequelae.
We need to stand up an army of contact tracers who can follow the chain of infection of every identified case. The states and counties will have to do this, since there seems to be so little appetite for leadership at the Federal level.
We need a network of public, free isolation facilities for all those who haven’t the ability to self-isolate during recuperation. We can use hotels, college dorms, and similar facilities, but again, the states, counties, and cities will have to lead where federal leadership is absent.
Finally, once we have stood up a comprehensive and effective system of identifying, containing, and ultimately ending community transmission of the virus, we must require regular testing and PPE use as a pre-condition of doing business, and socialize those costs.
These basic services form the core of a reinvigorated public health infrastructure, which is the only rational and scientifically determined path back to full operation of our society. We have to pay the cost of this infrastructure if we want our society to function at all anymore. Leave out any part, and we are quickly right back to lock-downs and more dead citizens.
It is unconscionable and utterly immoral for us to do nothing and simply let Americans die in their thousands until we find effective treatments and, ultimately, a safe and effective vaccine. Even rolling out a theoretical vaccine could take years, after potentially years in development. Millions of Americans would die without taking effective steps to limit infections.
We need real leadership in our country to rebuild and reinforce our public health infrastructure from the ground up, and the President is not leading us there, or even advocating for it. What we need is a miracle of federalism in which state legislatures, Governors, and other state-level leaders step into the void left by the President’s passivity. We have to survive until at least Jan. 20, 2021 without an effective President. Without state leaders taking the reins and blazing a path forward, we all remain in grave danger.