Over the past six months, the United States and several other countries have lost hundreds of thousands of lives to SARS-CoV-2. The pattern in responses is clear. Countries that took aggressive actions to attack the virus and prevent its spread have low case numbers and few fatalities. Countries that dithered have high transmission and high fatalities. All countries that avoided the wrath of the pandemic perfected two things: testing and quarantining. To quarantine effectively, there must be testing. To test effectively, there must be low numbers of cases. To have a low number of cases, there must be effective testing and quarantining. Countries that tested and quarantined before the cat was out of the bag have low case numbers. Now that the cat is out of the bag, identifying people quickly enough to prevent the spread of the virus is impossible in the current iteration of the United States’ testing apparatus. The current system of testing is tantamount to running on a treadmill. It would be impossible to get ahead of transmissions until herd immunity is reached. At that point, every effort to contain the virus will have been for naught. After shutting down the economy, putting millions out of work, putting the country into a recession, and disrupting the lives of millions of Americans, we cannot afford to fail.
To get ahead of the pandemic, we must effectively “reset” the pandemic. Politicians left and right call for a ‘surge in testing.’ Where is anyone going to find 330 million tests in one day, one week, one month, or even one year? Currently, the US is creating 500,000 – 800,000 tests per day. And each test is useless the second a person tests negative and encounters another person.In addition, the current testing strategy produces long lines and wait times. We need a national testing strategy.
Operation Cover and Catch is the national testing strategy developed by the Logical Policy Organization. It entails the use of pool testing. Preliminary tests would be provided randomly to individuals to establish a level of infection in a geographic area. Areas with higher positivity rates would see a surge of resources (tests, doctors, and new hospital units). Afterwards, individuals would be pool tested with those with whom they have the most contact, such as roommates or family members. This shifts the focus from contact tracing to network testing, putting us ahead of the virus, and eliminating the long lines that have become associated with the current testing system. This method would also be capable of testing the entire country before the end of the year or even sooner (depending on the network size). The size of networks will depend on the positivity rate of a given area in the preliminary tests. Areas with a positivity rate of less than 10% could use testing networks of up to 10 people. Areas with a positivity rate of less than 20% could use testing networks of up to 5 people. Operation Cover and Catch also includes concurrent testing, which is the process of including people in multiple testing networks to identify potential cases. Concurrent testing also includes rapid testing and saliva testing.
The Health of Individuals
We must A.I.M to beat this virus using this three-step approach:
- Avoidance - The steps taken to avoid encountering the virus. These steps include testing, quarantining, physical distancing.
- Interception - Efforts to prevent the virus from infecting anyone. This step is necessary when avoidance is impossible. Interception is about attenuating the virus or preventing asymptomatic carriers from spreading the virus. Interception includes washing hands, wearing masks, and proper coughing/ sneezing techniques.
- Mitigation - Mitigating the damage the virus causes if a person does become infected. This step is all about boosting our immune systems and reducing stress regularly. Failure to do these two things will result in sickness and death irrespective of SARS-CoV-2 It is imperative to focus on preventing death, not just COVID-19 deaths.
Other Effects of the Pandemic
This virus has impacted more than just our health. Our Economy, institutions, and upcoming elections have also been affected. To successfully mitigate the negative effects of SARS-CoV-2, we must effectively work around the hurdles created by the virus.
To manage the economic fallout, V.E.A.R.N, the Voluntary Emergency Agreement for Retaining Necessities is a solution. V.E.A.R.N, brainchild of Logical Policy Organization, is an arrangement asking banks to supply long-term, low-interest loans to individuals and businesses struggling with the pandemic. It is a voluntary arrangement, so no legislation would be required, and no individual or institution would be required to participate. This arrangement would provide stability to the economy, lessening the fear of landlords, renters, and business owners that bills might not be paid. Even through perilous times, solutions can be reached if everyone involved in the process is on the same page. Knowing that loans are available would provide landlords the wiggle room needed to avoid evictions or provide businesses with the assistance needed to avoid permanently shutting down. The financial consequences of SARS-CoV-2 have been immense. Decisive action will prevent the impacts from becoming worse.
Institutions & Schools
Our institutions (e.g. schools, offices, museums) have faced a unique set of challenges. Schools will largely reopen this month or in September. Concerns over the possible spread of SARS-CoV-2 have left school districts without a stable plan for educating the youth. Schools must:
- Use a flipped classroom model
- Use a grouping system to alternate students between physical and digital learning.
- Use online, physical classrooms monitored by a proctor as an option for students and teachers who opt out of physical teaching.
- Prioritize note-taking and online practice for the first semester.
Using a flipped classroom model assigns note taking to students as homework, while practice questions (typically homework) are done in class. This saves scarce face-to-face with teachers for questions and support. A grouping system would provide a plan for districts to alternate students between classroom and non-classroom learning. A district could divide students into two groups. One group can attend classes for two weeks in a month, while the other group can attend classes for the other two weeks. This shrinks class sizes and allows for more physical distancing. Online learning monitored by proctors is the option for students who are on a physical learning track when their group is not in the classroom. Also, teachers who decline the physical learning option. Prioritizing note-taking and online practice allows students to run through the curriculum during the first semester and using the second semester as review. Students will be familiar with the materials.
To mitigate the effects of SARS-CoV-2 on our elections, we must implement the S.A.F.E (Successful, Accessible, Fair Election) Plan.
- Allow for absentee ballots in all 50 states and delivery of ballots to precincts the day before and the day of the elections. This will ensure that ballots are in at the same, speeding up the counting and prevent a recurrence of the primary election debacles that are still occurring in some states. This will also assuage the fears of voters, namely African American voters, who fear voter disenfranchisement.
- Ballot initiatives and candidate signature application processes must be replaced with threshold polling and electronic signatures to be consistent with physical distancing guidelines.
- States should create an election hotline to provide information and access to registration and requests of ballots.
- P.P.E, funding, and training should be provided for poll workers.
- Same-day registration in each state.
The full plan, titled How to Safely Reopen America, is available at the link below.
Logical Policy Organization
Email: [email protected]
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