The US is not done with the coronavirus pandemic, and a Harvard expert says we need to shift the blame game from reopening to fixing our testing and contact tracing system
After weeks of blocking to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the United States is on the way to reopening the economy. However, a number of states have reported spikes across the country in new cases.
While the blame for what is known as a "rushed reopening," one expert said, the blame should instead be put on the lack of a comprehensive test and contact tracking system in the United States.
Danielle Allen, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, along with more than 30 other interdisciplinary experts, has detailed instructions titled "Pandemic Resilience: Getting It Done" on the required test levels and creates traceability to communities safe to open again.
Allen told Business Insider that the U.S. approach to slowing spread rather than completely suppressing cases could be responsible for the peaks in the cases.
"Most states have reopened with a containment strategy rather than an oppression strategy," she said. "We believe that this is a mistake as it does not provide a sufficiently secure basis for full opening and fully stable opening."
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States in the United States are on the way to reopening their economies after months of patchwork of "stay-at-home" orders have been put in place to curb the spread of the novel corona virus.
The White House has released a number of criteria that states are encouraged to comply with before reopening. According to a ProPublica analysis, only seven countries met all criteria by Friday.
Coronavirus cases in the US have increased, with the country seeing the largest increase in new cases within 72 hours earlier this week. In a leaked CDC document, the United States was named the worst of ten large countries in its response to the COVID 19 pandemic. By Friday evening, the United States had reported over 2 million cases and more than 114,000 deaths.
Impressive. The US saw a 36% increase in daily COVID cases (moving average of the past three days), according to a CDC documented by @YahooNews.
Most European countries are falling fast.
via @realchriswilson (w / @janawinter)
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An expert said if we look at the increase in cases, the frame should shift from a focus on a "rush reopening" to a delay in establishing a coherent test and contact tracking strategy.
Danielle Allen, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, along with more than 30 other interdisciplinary experts, wrote detailed instructions entitled "Pandemic Resilience: Getting It Done" on the test levels and traceability required to keep communities safe open again.
"I don't think we accelerated the reopening. I don't think we did," Allen told Business Insider. "I think we didn't manage to build the tools of oppression. We didn't."
Allen said the reopening of the US was more or less "when it should have been," but "we should have used these instruments of repression at the time we reopened."
FILE - This June 1, 2020 file photo hairdresser Zak Moukhtabir is working on Cheyenne Foster's hair at the Georgetown Salon & Spa in Washington. The Trump administration does not have to issue an emergency rule that requires employers to protect workers from the corona virus, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday, June 11. (AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta, file)
She told Business Insider that the discrepancy in US deficiencies in dealing with the coronavirus was simply plastering the problem rather than taking a direct approach to suppressing the disease.
"Our strategy essentially boils down to the choice of suppression - returning to near-zero incidents - as the right strategy rather than mitigation, which is only about slowing the spread," said Allen.
"Most states have reopened with a containment strategy rather than a suppression strategy," Allen told Business Insider. "We believe that this is a mistake as it does not provide a sufficiently secure basis for full opening and fully stable opening." ""
"Basically, it is important that you have to be able to run enough tests to track the transmission chains and break the transmission chains to suppress the disease and bring the prevalence back to near zero."
By June 12, the U.S. had performed more than 23 million coronavirus tests, and nearly 2.5 million tests were positive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For comparison: In the "Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience" by the Harvard experts, 5 million tests per day were required, which should be scaled to 20 million tests per day by the end of July.
According to a Stat News report at the end of April, many states did not reach the test levels required for safe reopening by early May when the federal guidelines on social distance expired.
Students sit at desks with yellow dividers set up as a measure against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Dajia Elementary School in Taipei, Taiwan, on March 13, 2020.
Ann Wang / Reuters
She said the strategy of suppression had been used and has so far proven successful in a number of other countries, including Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, Germany and South Korea.
"This strategy of suppression has been used around the world ... and the difference is really remarkable," said Allen. "Where countries really speak out for full oppression - not just for mitigation but also for full oppression - they are much better off."
Taiwan saw GDP growth of 1.67% in the first quarter of this year - the slowest in five years - but showed that the country was on the path to an economic recovery in the face of the pandemic.
Although the U.S. has already begun to gradually reopen in a number of countries, Allen still says that there is still time to set up an unrestricted, orderly test and contact tracking system to suppress new cases and ultimately not to cause new incidents.
"I think a lot of people believed early on that this country was unable to achieve oppression, and that's just not true," she said. "We have the ability to achieve oppression and we would be much better off doing it."
"So it's not the reopening that has been rushed - it's the delay in building the suppression tools that is the problem," added Allen, "and people have to realign it."
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