Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has released a new report (“Resetting Our Response: Changes needed in the U.S. approach to COVID-19“), looking into the new policy actions that need to be taken to stem the tide of COVID-19 cases. The document also outlines the way that data needs to be reported at U.S. federal, state and local levels in order to gain meaningful insights into the trends in relation to SARS-CoV-2 cases.
The report, which is critical of the current Administration’s handling of the pandemic so far, describes the necessary actions required to slowdown COVID-19 cases. This is through stipulating different courses of action that society, businesses and healthcare should be putting into place.
The report is clear-cut in its criticism: “the United States is not currently on course to get control of this epidemic. It’s time to reset.” And an unfavourable comparison is drawn with the policy measures that have been put in place and acted upon in other countries.
The report makes ten key recommendations, which are summarized as:
1. Encourage and, when appropriate, mandate nonpharmaceutical interventions, including wearing masks and physical distancing.
2. Postpone higher-risk activities and close facilities in jurisdictions where the epidemic is worsening; Reinstitute stay-at-home orders for up to two weeks in jurisdictions where healthcare systems are in crisis.
3. Bolster PPE supply chains and stockpiles and make information about the PPE manufacturing base and supply chain publicly available, with the goal of transparency around this paucity and expanding PPE availability as much as possible.
4. Bolster test supply chains, plan for shortages, and collaborate with states and commercial laboratories to expand capacity and improve test turnaround times.
5. Conduct and make public detailed analyses of epidemiologic data collected during case investigations and contact tracing.
6. Curate and fund a rapid research agenda to cope with major challenges that have arisen.
7. Scale up contact tracing programs and continue to improve participation and performance.
8. Identify and disseminate best practices for improving the public health response.
9. Plan for an eventual national vaccine, including production, allocation, distribution, and community engagement, to ensure a successful rollout.
10. Develop policies and best practices to better protect group institutions.
Importantly, the report calls for federal action, noting “the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge far beyond what any 1 state, territory, or community can handle alone.” Therefore, Trump’s recourse to blame individual state governors, for example, if flying in the face of the science. Only national, co-ordinated action will be effective to tackle the U.S. coronavirus crisis.