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We Need a National Coronavirus Plan (part II)

Part II – The core components of the Coronavirus Recovery Plans

(If you haven't read Part I of this blog post you should do so first)

So how should we build the national Coronavirus medical recovery plan (CMRP) and a Coronavirus financial relief plan (CFRP)?

First, we need to determine our metrics for success. What are our goals for the safety and health of our citizens, for our economy and so forth?

The next step is to clearly detail the set of principles we stand for. We will help each other. We will be fair when distributing the costs and providing the benefits. We will optimize supplies for where they are most needed (no hoarding!) etc.

Then we need to establish our priorities. There are countless important things to do but there is some set of tactics, likely five to ten, that are of the highest priority. For example:

  • Flattening the curve with approaches like social distancing and washing hands, so we slow the spread of the virus and limit overtaxing of our medical system. Though it would likely not work in our country, in China they created “fever clinics” to isolate infected people entirely from the rest of the population.

  • Dramatically increasing testing capacity.

  • Increasing the number of medical personnel and hospital beds.

  • Developing a vaccine for the future.

  • Ensuring the supply chain improves for critical medical supplies, food and essentials and that the places that need the supplies most critically get them.

  • Protecting healthcare workers so they can treat patients.

  • On the CFRP side, stabilizing the economy and helping families and workers that need support, helping industries hardest hit by the crisis (example: travel), might be some of the key priorities.

Then we need to ACT. We need to act decisively and boldly. ACT is also an acronym that tells us how. It stands for

Align resources.

Communicate the strategy/curate the culture, and

Track to improve.

For each key priority, there needs to be a leader and team who is accountable for the success of that priority. For example, if flattening the curve is a key priority, then someone with a strong team must be on point and given authority and accountability for making sure we are doing all the right things nationwide to flatten the curve.

Another part of the alignment component of ACT is making sure that every critical priority and activity is appropriately funded with the dollars and people needed to get the job done. We need the best epidemiologists, the best data scientists, the most knowledgeable economists and so on. And creativity and out of the box thinking will be a necessity. If we need our armed forces or national guard to help, call them in. If we need to rally business leaders to help build things we need, then we should not hesitate to do so.

Transparent and honest communication is key to the effort to build confidence and success across the nation. Governors, businesspeople, the press, and citizens all need to know what the CMRP and CFRP plans are, and what they are supposed to do. We need a national website that is the definitive place to go, frequent television, email, social media updates, and so on.

We need to build a national culture to support the effort. Support and publicity for those doing extraordinary things to help our citizens and solve the crisis. We need to strengthen our sense of community and steel our resolve.

And finally, we need to constantly track our results and, based on the data, adjust our plans accordingly. We will not get everything right the first time since we are working swiftly, the situation is changing rapidly, and the virus is new. We need consistency in how we identify strategies, and test/evaluate them. We also need to coordinate and communicate and learn from other countries around the world. Ideally, we would have a global plan for a global pandemic but, given the logistical impossibilities of doing that, we at least need to work together with the rest of the world and learn from each other.

We will get through this crisis. But how rapidly and effectively we do so is a consequence of how well and quickly we build and execute an effective national strategy. We must plan our attack and attack our plan. We need thoughtful, steady leadership. We should have started a long time ago, but, as the old saying goes, better late than never.

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