A top Obama administration health official has said the United States could “virtually eliminate” the coronavirus “any time we decide to” if the country were to take universal steps in controlling the virus.
Andy Slavitt, the former acting administrator of the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Barack Obama, shared a 38-tweet thread about what the country could be doing during the pandemic.
“We can virtually eliminate the virus any time we decide to,” Mr Slavitt wrote. “We can be back to a reasonably normal existence: schools, travel, job growth, safer nursing homes & other settings. And we could do it in a matter of weeks. If we want to.”
Charts from other countries were then shared by the health official to show how other places were able to control the spread of the novel virus.
He used the examples of Germany, Italy, New Zealand, and Spain to show how each country has given the US tools against the pandemic.
“Don’t tell me the US can’t take action if we want to,” he wrote.
A six-step “kitchen sink” plan was recommended by the health official. If the US implemented the six steps immediately, Mr Slavitt said it could be “with the goal of being open for business in October – meaning schools, in person voting, sports, everything”.
The plan would involve a 90 per cent lockdown instead of a 50 per cent lockdown, which is what the country implemented in March into April. It was only 50 per cent lockdown because not all states shut down and there were still a lot of essential employees going to work that would instead stay home.
COVID Update July 26: We can virtually eliminate the virus any time we decide to. 1/— Andy Slavitt @ 🏡 (@ASlavitt)July 26, 2020
Other steps involved universal mask wearing, prohibiting interstate travel, prohibiting travel between countries, keeping all hot spot locations closed like bars and restaurants, and using hotels to house people with Covid-19 symptoms away from their families.
Mr Slavitt admitted this plan would mean the economy would take a “several week hit” and “extended unemployment insurance” would be necessary to address how many Americans would lose their jobs.
But the plan would still allow for people to go outside and gather “safely” with friends.
“So what would happen? At first, absolutely nothing,” Mr Slavitt wrote, “Cases would still grow from the prior weeks & the incubation period. Hospitals would still be full. We would still see people die.”
He added: “The COVID truthers would have a field day, tweeting every day the same routine.”
So let’s define the kitchen sink:
1. start with universal mask wearing. We didn’t do this in Mar-April and let’s chalk it up to faulty instructions. But we know better now.
2. Keep the bars & restaurants & churches & transit closed. All hot spots.
3. Prohibit interstate travel10/— Andy Slavitt @ 🏡 (@ASlavitt)July 26, 2020
By the end of the eight weeks, Mr Slavitt said the US would not be at zero cases, but instead there would be “embers” of the virus left behind. These “embers”, though, would be controllable by health officials in every area, as they would be able to quickly test, isolate, and trace the virus in each individual impacted.
It also would give healthcare professionals a chance to “catch their breath”, and create an excess of ventilators and PPE for people to use.
“Whether we do this or not, let’s not pretend this isn’t an option,” Mr Slavitt said.
“We will do this. There is no other way. The question is when. The question is who will convince us. The question is the leadership it takes,” he added at the end of his thread. “But there’s not much question if we should.”
More than 4.2 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus and the US was nearing the 150,000 death toll mark with 147,253 deaths as of Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
At his first coronavirus press briefings in weeks, Mr Trump appeared to change tones by admitting the problem would get worse before it got better. He even cancelled the in-person Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida, for a virtual option in North Carolina.
But the Trump administration has not indicated if it would consider a “kitchen sink” plan that would shut down a majority of the country.