HOW TO STOP COVID
The way to stop COVID in the United States is to identify all the people in the U.S. who have COVID and then quarantine them for two weeks.
Let’s say we set up a National Testing Week. We could set up mobile testing everywhere in parking lots, public parks, and we could also hire people to bring testing to those who are homebound. We test everyone within this short period.
Those who test positive will be notified and must quarantine for two weeks.
Obviously those who develop severe symptoms should be hospitalized and all who test positive should receive regular telephone or personal visits to monitor their illness as needed.
At the end of the two week period, we can retest and those who test as free of the virus can go back into general circulation. The rate of the transmission of the illness would be reduced to almost nothing. Any who are missed should be easy to mop up using contact tracing techniques.
What about costs? The current cost of the disease running as it is is in the trillions of dollars. The economic impact (in terms of decreased GDP) in the US of the first two months of mitigation is estimated at 2.14 trillion dollars. https://www.mercatus.org/publications/covid-19-policy-brief-series/cost-covid-19-rough-estimate-2020-us-gdp-impact
This is not to mention the misery of the illness, and of the families of those who lose people to this illness which of course can’t be calculated but is huge.
Currently Medicare reimburses a COVID test at the rate of $100. Assuming that is a baseline cost this means that 330 million people in the U.S. could be tested for a cost of 33 billion dollars. This would cover, probaby more than cover, the basic costs of the tests themselves.
Obviously there would be other costs involved in such a massive program. Stimulus money could be used to hire an army of people to help administer these tests and to make sure everyone receives them. Let’s suppose that adds another 100 dollars to the cost per person. That would still put us at no more 66 billion dollars. The truth is even if it cost ten times that it would be well worth it, and a bargain really for this nation.
The CARES relief act had a two trillion dollar price tag, for instance. The testing at 33 billion would be about 1/6 of that cost and it would effectively end most of the problem. If you double that 66 billion it is no more than ⅓ of the cost of the CARES act. (And there’s another stimulus bill coming, also in the trillions.)
To do this would take strong national leadership, a coordinated effort between federal ,state, and local governments. It would require the Congress and the President to work together and for the nation to unite in this effort. Individual volunteers and volunteer organizations, religious groups, and citizens groups could all get involved to help make this possible.
Iceland set out to test everyone and their curve is completely flattened. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/iceland/ It is true there were logistical problems and cost problems, and you can read criticisms of the Icelandic approach here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/09/world/europe/coronavirus-testing-iceland.html
But the concept still seems doable and it would end so much squabbling and tension in the United States, bring people together in the effort, and would have so many social, economic and health benefits it seems well worth the try. I am not a physician, an epidemiologist, or any sort of expert. But isn’t it clear that if we could test everyone within a short period, we could end this thing relatively quickly and then look ahead to getting a vaccine when it is safe and available?
A Nobel Prize winning economist, Dr. Paul Romer, has analyzed the situation and produced a report, a Roadmap to Responsibly Reopen America. You can read it in full here: https://roadmap.paulromer.net/paulromer-roadmap-report.pdf