America Is Shutting Down.

How Only Ubiquitous Testing Can Re-Open America

There’s a debate emerging about how Americans should cope with the Coronavirus. 

On one hand - harsh mitigation strategies are being adopted all over the US to “Flatten the Curve”.  By doing so, we might be able to keep our hospital system from collapsing under the surge of new patients needing critical care. 

Flattening the curve doesn’t stop the spread of the coronavirus, it only slows it.   It buys us valuable time to deal with the sick and work on pharmaceutical interventions and, hopefully, a vaccine. 

On the other hand, you have people arguing that this is an overreaction and no matter how bad the virus is, these aggressive mitigation strategies are not worth the cost to the economy.  

How many millions of Americans will lose their jobs?  How many businesses will go bankrupt? And are the long term consequences worth it?  These people have a point, because the economy is skidding to a halt: 

Should we fight or not fight?

The Market decided to fight it by Shutting down. Governments didn’t lead, they followed.

I and other business owners moved our staff to remote work long before any government suggested it.  We saw the risks and took the action we thought necessary to safeguard our employees.  Likewise, countless parents pulled their kids out of school before the state ordered they be closed. 

Market forces like these made social distancing a reality and now government officials at all levels are following along with formal mitigation policies.

No matter which side of the debate you’re on, it’s time to let it go. America is shutting down. Our focus should turn to what comes next.

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How and When do We Restart Our Economy

While our healthcare workers fight on the front lines of the disease, the rest of us should focus on the next line of battle: How and when do we restart our economy?

For the last ten days I’ve been ill.  I have a cough, sore throat, and an intermittent low grade fever.  I’ve been tired and had little to no appetite. Is it the Coronavirus? I have no idea. I don’t qualify for testing in Colorado unless it gets so bad that I need to be hospitalized.

So, I’ve been self-isolating and monitoring symptoms closely. Thankfully, I feel like I’m getting over it - whatever it is.  But, it’s made me think a lot about testing.

Before Anyone Can Go Back To Work: Testing, Testing Everywhere 

The key argument for not testing everyone is that whether you have the virus or not, the treatment you’d receive is the same.  While that may currently be true, the real reason I can’t be tested here is Colorado is that we just don’t have enough testing capacity.  

The only way America can start to open up is if we radically change our approach and capabilities for testing.

We need to look at testing not as a tool to determine treatment, but as a tool to determine carrier status so non-carriers can go back to work.

If you’re a carrier, do the responsible thing and self-isolate and get the care you need. 

If you’re not a carrier and not in a high-risk group, you don’t need to sit at home wondering and wasting away. And, if you were previously infected -whether you had symptoms or not - and beat the virus you likely have some immunity.

Either way, non-carriers could be pitching in. Whether that’s just going to work as normal or if that means volunteering at the local hospital, we could be of great service to our family and community.  But, we need to know.

New Mantra: Re-Open America with Ubiquitous Testing

Flatten the curve helped people understand that we needed to stop the spread.  I think that was the right move given the circumstances.  But, if we want to avoid the Greater Depression, the mantra needs to change very quickly to something that focuses on American innovation and productivity.

Re-Opening America can’t happen until we have fast, cheap, and easy testing at scale.

As of March 20th the US was still way behind in the number of people tested: 

US testing capacity was a national disgrace through early March. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case. Daily capacity is now dramatically expanding

Source - John Robb Global Guerrillas

The Urgent Need to Ramp Up and Roll Out Ubiquitous Testing

Those worried about overwhelming our hospitals are right. And those worried about our economy are right.

The most urgent need is to mitigate the first order impact of the virus. Many people are working to solve the medical equipment shortages. It’s a problem, but many, many people are working on it. It will get better.

What won’t get better are the prospects for our economy if all we’re going to do is wait until the coast is clear. We need a workable strategy to Re-Open America and ubiquitous testing is that strategy.

So while our citizens stay home and our healthcare workers battle on the front lines, any of us who can should turn our attention the problem of testing.

#UbiquitousTesting It’s not a simple problem, but it’s well within our ability to tackle… and fast. The two main obstacles are regulations and scale.

Regulations in particular must change. The FDA just made a shocking move to shut down companies trying to bring testing to the masses. We must push back against this right now.

Let’s focus our attention there. Let’s devote our considerable resources and creativity to Ubiquitous Testing so we can Re-Open America.

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