What Can the US Do to Stop COVID-19?
There are many different theories about how the current pandemic crisis will end in America. Some argue that a vaccine will help to eliminate it from the population, just like with polio. In contrast, others argue that it will eventually just become something that has to be lived with, like the common cold. In the meantime, it’s causing thousands of unnecessary deaths, so what would the US have to do to stop the spread of the disease?
- Consistency in Instructions
As scientists learn more about this virus all the time, it’s been difficult for countries across the world to be consistent in their instructions. This is damaging as consistency, and a clear message that the population can understand and act upon is vital for encouraging the necessary mass action. This messaging needs to be about who can get the disease, how dangerous it is (many Americans liken it to a bad cold, as was popularly said at the very start of the crisis), and how the average member of the population can help to stop it.
- Massive, regular testing
There needs to be massive testing to stop the spread, especially from asymptomatic individuals. This is a technology that’s being produced right now – companies like Team Technologies Inc are producing rapid COVID-19 tests that will give results quickly. This is important to self-isolate if they need to, but there’s a big issue with false positives. If false positives get too high, people will be quarantining themselves without need. If false-positive rates are even 1% and the population is tested regularly en-masse, then that’s 1% of the potential workforce that has to quarantine – something that will impact the economy.
- Use Masks
Many Asian nations have managed to keep the infection number down due to extensive mask-wearing (something that many nations are accustomed to due to pollution and dry air) and, although scientists at first didn’t think masks would be too effective, it looks like they significantly reduce the risk of catching the disease, as well as spreading it. Initially, scientists thought that the COVID-19 virus size was too small for a mask to do any good, but, as they learned about the disease’s spread, they realized it had to have a vector – a much larger globule of saliva. This globule is too big to fit through masks; instead, the virus could penetrate due to osmosis, which would take more time to do and impacts fewer mask-wearers.
- Contact Tracing
An extensive contact tracing program will allow the United States to immediately identify those who could be affected and either get them tested or enforce a quarantine on them. Countries like South Korea and Taiwan immediately jumped in with a tech-facilitated tracing system that they said was instrumental in coping with the virus’s spread. It sounds easy but is actually difficult to do – people might not always answer phones (especially unknown numbers). They’ll be wary of scams and feel like their freedom is being impeded upon. It’s a hard question, but one that needs to be answered.