8 suggestions for President Trump to curb the coronavirus

This week is the inflection point in this crisis and in the Trump presidency now that we have learned two devastating facts: people won't be returning to work en masse any time soon, and America is likely to lose 100,000–200,000 people to the virus, according to Dr. Fauci.

"Trump said it wasn't a problem and 200,000 people died!" will be the unfair but predictable theme of the 2020 election.  A shell-shocked and desperate population might buy it.  It simply won't matter how effective his overall leadership on the issue has been if it includes glaring holes.  The Democrats offer nothing, but that may not matter — enough disaster and the party in power suffers, even if the problems are not their fault.  Trump's presidency and the future of the country are at stake; we'll be lucky to dig out from under this with an effective leader who actually believes in the country.  Imagine trying to do it under a Democrat president.

It's this week or never, Mr. President.  This is the week when Trump has to lay out a simple strategy for victory.  If he waits, the desperation will mount as more urban hospitals become overwhelmed with sick people.  So far, we have been able to concentrate manpower and supplies in a few locations, but that won't last.  Every state needs a simple plan, and with Trump's emergency powers, he can order them to do certain things.  Whether our governors know it or not, they are waiting for these directives.  All are important, but the first two could not be more urgent:

  1. Order the states to work in coordination with the Census Department and other federal agencies to identify every "at risk" person so they can be assisted with self-quarantine.  Ideally, their M.D.s would contact them or their M.D.'s staff.  We aren't a country that will lock up people as the government did in China, but we have to encourage as many at-risk people as possible to willingly self-quarantine.  If they have dedicated caregivers, those people and their families should also quarantine themselves and be fully aware of the danger they pose to their patients if they carry the disease with them.  Ideally, people will be asked if volunteers can help them with food and medicine and contact them regularly to see how they are doing and what they need.  A great — the greatest? — humanitarian project in the country's history is waiting for the president's imprimatur.  There are millions of idle people who will jump at the chance to help, to know they are doing something important.
  2. Order the NIH to publish simplified ventilator requirements online and open bidding for delivery in the next two weeks.  The essence of the machine is a regulated air pump with an oxygen feed and hoses.  Portable ventilators exist, and Governor Cuomo is talking about National Guard troops being relegated to using air bladders, pumping away hour after hour.  That will make great footage.  A peasant family in China have kept their son alive for five years with an air bladder.  They rigged up a simple system so that when they can afford power, they don't have to sit and squeeze the bladder hour after hour.  Why are we fixated on producing expensive hospital-grade equipment when the need is so simple?  Mark my words: this is the cross the left will crucify the president on.  Amazingly, the feds have already cleared the way for using simplified ventilators.  Every day now, Trump is being asked by the press if he can guarantee that every American who needs a ventilator will get one.  The answer to that is probably no, unless he brings in a lot more idle talent that can get the job done by making basic machines to assist breathing.  Let's go, right now.
  3. Order the NIH to publish online specs for all manner of PPE.  Make it clear that we will pay a premium but that failure to deliver will have consequences.
  4. Issue clear directives on the right to try treatments.  The least costly of these prospective treatments is the anti-malarial and anti-lupus drug hydroxychloroquine, already prescribed to hundreds of thousands of lupus patients in the U.S.  We know the contraindications; the effort by the leftist media to tarnish and bury this drug is remarkable.  Then again, the left made "right to try" impossible for years.  Every patient suffocating from this dread virus has a right to try.  Trump should make it clear that his right to try policy has real time meaning.
  5. Direct the CDC and NIH to develop rapid deployment antibody tests.  Those with antibodies can be cleared to return to work immediately since they've already had the virus and recovered.
  6. Encourage governors to tell all their citizens to wear a mask covering nose and mouth whenever they are outside.  Even a makeshift mask reduces explosive discharge from sneezing and coughing and encourages the wearer to keep his hands away from his nose and mouth.
  7. Order states to construct makeshift field hospitals or re-purpose buildings for patient use.
  8. Quarantine heavily affected areas.  We have a Wuhan here now.  We cut off travel from China; it makes no sense to allow free travel in and out of our own Wuhan.  We kept Berlin alive from halfway around the world; we can take care of our own.

We can't replicate the concentration of resources, manpower, and expertise that we have brought to bear in the areas that are already affected.  Federal help will be more and more scarce as the virus rolls through the country; it is now expected to affect every urban area.  Governors need clear orders, and they need them now.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

This week is the inflection point in this crisis and in the Trump presidency now that we have learned two devastating facts: people won't be returning to work en masse any time soon, and America is likely to lose 100,000–200,000 people to the virus, according to Dr. Fauci.

"Trump said it wasn't a problem and 200,000 people died!" will be the unfair but predictable theme of the 2020 election.  A shell-shocked and desperate population might buy it.  It simply won't matter how effective his overall leadership on the issue has been if it includes glaring holes.  The Democrats offer nothing, but that may not matter — enough disaster and the party in power suffers, even if the problems are not their fault.  Trump's presidency and the future of the country are at stake; we'll be lucky to dig out from under this with an effective leader who actually believes in the country.  Imagine trying to do it under a Democrat president.

It's this week or never, Mr. President.  This is the week when Trump has to lay out a simple strategy for victory.  If he waits, the desperation will mount as more urban hospitals become overwhelmed with sick people.  So far, we have been able to concentrate manpower and supplies in a few locations, but that won't last.  Every state needs a simple plan, and with Trump's emergency powers, he can order them to do certain things.  Whether our governors know it or not, they are waiting for these directives.  All are important, but the first two could not be more urgent:

  1. Order the states to work in coordination with the Census Department and other federal agencies to identify every "at risk" person so they can be assisted with self-quarantine.  Ideally, their M.D.s would contact them or their M.D.'s staff.  We aren't a country that will lock up people as the government did in China, but we have to encourage as many at-risk people as possible to willingly self-quarantine.  If they have dedicated caregivers, those people and their families should also quarantine themselves and be fully aware of the danger they pose to their patients if they carry the disease with them.  Ideally, people will be asked if volunteers can help them with food and medicine and contact them regularly to see how they are doing and what they need.  A great — the greatest? — humanitarian project in the country's history is waiting for the president's imprimatur.  There are millions of idle people who will jump at the chance to help, to know they are doing something important.
  2. Order the NIH to publish simplified ventilator requirements online and open bidding for delivery in the next two weeks.  The essence of the machine is a regulated air pump with an oxygen feed and hoses.  Portable ventilators exist, and Governor Cuomo is talking about National Guard troops being relegated to using air bladders, pumping away hour after hour.  That will make great footage.  A peasant family in China have kept their son alive for five years with an air bladder.  They rigged up a simple system so that when they can afford power, they don't have to sit and squeeze the bladder hour after hour.  Why are we fixated on producing expensive hospital-grade equipment when the need is so simple?  Mark my words: this is the cross the left will crucify the president on.  Amazingly, the feds have already cleared the way for using simplified ventilators.  Every day now, Trump is being asked by the press if he can guarantee that every American who needs a ventilator will get one.  The answer to that is probably no, unless he brings in a lot more idle talent that can get the job done by making basic machines to assist breathing.  Let's go, right now.
  3. Order the NIH to publish online specs for all manner of PPE.  Make it clear that we will pay a premium but that failure to deliver will have consequences.
  4. Issue clear directives on the right to try treatments.  The least costly of these prospective treatments is the anti-malarial and anti-lupus drug hydroxychloroquine, already prescribed to hundreds of thousands of lupus patients in the U.S.  We know the contraindications; the effort by the leftist media to tarnish and bury this drug is remarkable.  Then again, the left made "right to try" impossible for years.  Every patient suffocating from this dread virus has a right to try.  Trump should make it clear that his right to try policy has real time meaning.
  5. Direct the CDC and NIH to develop rapid deployment antibody tests.  Those with antibodies can be cleared to return to work immediately since they've already had the virus and recovered.
  6. Encourage governors to tell all their citizens to wear a mask covering nose and mouth whenever they are outside.  Even a makeshift mask reduces explosive discharge from sneezing and coughing and encourages the wearer to keep his hands away from his nose and mouth.
  7. Order states to construct makeshift field hospitals or re-purpose buildings for patient use.
  8. Quarantine heavily affected areas.  We have a Wuhan here now.  We cut off travel from China; it makes no sense to allow free travel in and out of our own Wuhan.  We kept Berlin alive from halfway around the world; we can take care of our own.

We can't replicate the concentration of resources, manpower, and expertise that we have brought to bear in the areas that are already affected.  Federal help will be more and more scarce as the virus rolls through the country; it is now expected to affect every urban area.  Governors need clear orders, and they need them now.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.