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Coronavirus: Dramatic Measures Required

March 12, 2020 (EIRNS)—China’s success in beating back the coronavirus has depended on aggressive measures of research, testing, hospital construction, relocation of medical workers, supply production, and such social measures as isolation, quarantine, requiring masks, and the use of smartphone apps to indicate health risks when entering public buildings or public transport.

Some of the steps announced by President Donald Trump—such as eliminating co-pays for coronavirus testing and an initiative to provide financial help to those not working in order to avoid the disease or to care for others suffering from it—are helpful, but they do not yet go nearly far enough. The vicious anti-China rhetoric of such people as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prevents the United States from learning from China’s success.

In contrast to Pompeo, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a speech he gave on March 11, praised China’s response:

“China—200,000 tests per day.... They were so aggressive on testing that they actually found the people who tested positive, isolated them, and then ran down the track of who those people may have contacted. Massive testing ... [In the United States,] we’ve done 5,000 tests to date. So, our testing is nowhere near [what] it needs to be. We saw China ... last year—you saw the case coming. Why did it take so long for this country to get a testing protocol done?”

He announced that New York State would take independent initiatives to contract with private laboratories to increase testing. At the beginning of the week, Cuomo announced that the state was producing its own hand sanitizer—100,000 gallons (half a million liters) per week. (He didn’t announce that it was produced by prisoners working for less than $1/hour.)

Such measures, taken on a much more massive and national scale, could see the redevelopment of domestic production chains for essential medicines and healthcare supplies. Social measures, such as mandatory paid sick leave, are required. It should be announced that coronavirus testing for the uninsured will be provided on a national basis. The test kits themselves be produced?

Could the kinds of social measures taken in China—including the use of smartphone apps to demonstrate a person’s risk status before being allowed on public transport—be implemented in the United States, Europe, or South America? What will the Chinese system with other characteristics look like?

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