In the absence of a coherent plan from our Federal government, Medical professionals offer specific recommendations. Here is a summary from the New York Times with hyperlinks to sources for details.
The Association of American Medical Colleges released a “road map” listing areas for action. The groupsays its members include all 155 accredited medical schools in the United States, as well as more than 400 teaching hospitals and health systems. “If the nation does not change its course – and soon – deaths in the United States could be well into the multiple hundreds of thousands,” the preamble warns.
No. 1 on their list is remedying shortages: “Laboratory supplies (e.g., reagents, transport media, plastic trays, sample vials, swabs for testing) are a critical national need. The federal government should negotiate with plastic fabricators and chemical supply houses, using the authority of the Defense Production Act or other means, to redirect American manufacturing to urgently eliminate shortages. … The federal government should negotiate with paper companies, rubber companies, and fabricators to increase domestic production of these urgently needed [personal protective equipment]. … The government should issue large contracts to companies producing critical medications needed for COVID-19 treatment so that companies are willing to overproduce in the short term and ameliorate national shortfalls.”
The Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security released a report on Wednesday with its own 10 recommendations. “Unlike many countries in the world, the United States is not currently on course to get control of this epidemic. It’s time to reset,” six scholars write in the introduction of their report. Like the academic medicine association, they also call for bolstering PPE and testing supply chains. Also on their list: “Close higher risk activities and settings in jurisdictions where the epidemic is worsening and reinstitute stay-at-home orders where healthcare systems are in crisis. … Conduct and make public detailed analyses of epidemiologic data collected during case investigations and contact tracing. … Scale up contact tracing and continue to improve performance. … Develop policies and best practices to better protect group institutions.”
The Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidance on reopening schools. Education reporter Valerie Strauss reports that the guidelines sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who has pushed for schools to reopen fully, list measures schools should take to safely offer in-person learning, including: Staggering start times for students to keep the number of children low inside classrooms. Keeping kids in cohorts throughout the school day. Enforcing strict handwashing requirements; disinfecting classroom surfaces every day. Ensuring that ventilation systems for classrooms are in good working order. Keeping children and teachers six feet apart in classrooms and during outdoor activities. Barring any activities in which students face each other.
“In the absence of robust and rapid diagnostic testing for schools, the major tools for disease mitigation are personal (social) distancing, mask usage, strict hand hygiene, fomite prevention on surfaces (enhanced cleaning measures), and proper room ventilation,” says the guidance, submitted by Paul Robinson, the chapter’s president.
At least 17 of 21 states flagged as “red zones” in the latest internal report compiled for the White House coronavirus task force are apparently not following recommendations by federal authorities to slow the spread. “The report, which is sent regularly to state officials but is not released to the public, categorizes states as green, yellow or red based on their levels of new cases and rate of tests coming back positive,” Hannah Knowles reports. “A state is designated a red zone if it reports more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people or if more than 10 percent of its virus tests come back positive.”
Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the chairman of the House’s Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, sent letters on Wednesday to the governors of the red-zone states of Georgia, Oklahoma, Florida and Tennessee urging them to follow the White House task force’s advice, including requiring masks, closing bars and more strictly limiting gatherings. He also demanded states turn over documents and data to his committee. “The White House’s refusal to publicly call for strong public health measures and to ensure nationwide compliance has led to an uneven patchwork of restrictions across states, counties, and cities,” Clyburn wrote in an open letter to Vice President Pence and White House coronavirus task force coordinator Debbie Birx. “This approach is allowing the virus to spread, prolonging and exacerbating the public health crisis facing this country.”
(Read Clyburn’s letter to DeSantis here and his letter to Pence and Birx here.)
A study released this morning by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology calls on governors in neighboring states to coordinate economic reopening plans more closely. The Social Analytics Lab at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy says its researchers used data from mobile phones, social media and the census to conclude that residents are worse off when reopening is not coordinated among states and regions. “When we analyzed the data, we were shocked by the degree to which state policies affected outcomes in other states, sometimes at great distances,” said Sinan Aral, an author of the study, in a statement. “Travel and social influence over digital media make this pandemic much more interdependent than we originally thought. Our results suggest an immediate need for a nationally coordinated policy across states, regions and nations around the world.”
“Florida’s social distancing was most affected by New York implementing a shelter-in-place policy due to social media influence and travel between the states, despite their physical distance,” according to a summary of the study, while “New Hampshire had a strong influence on adjacent Massachusetts, despite being a small state.”