A lot of people, including myself, are pondering the question of how soon and how safely we can "reopen" the country, to try to mitigate the damage to the economy and to the social fabric more generally. Gottlieb at AEI has come up with a detailed proposal in that regard. That's important, because he's likely to have the ear of influential legislators as well as officials in the Executive Branch--including the White House. He's been out and around discussing his proposal, trying to drum up interest and discussion.
I haven't read it all. I do know that Gottlieb is recommending a state by state approach--as each state fulfills certain conditions to "reopen" they will be evaluated separately. So it's not an "all or nothing" approach. I think that type of flexibility is highly desirable and would even like to see whether that approach could be extended to even more flexible geo-political agglomerations--for example, multiple country areas extending across state lines. Obviously that would involve administrative difficulties, but it's a thought.
With regard to the state by state approach I will note one point of disagreement I have with Gottlieb (that I'm aware of). He states that the virus has achieved "community spread" (as opposed to socially localized outbreaks) in ALL state. I'm at least skeptical of that, even though Gottlieb has almost incalculably more information at his disposal.
On the other hand, one point that I'm very pleased to learn that he agrees with me on--and is part of why I doubt that "community spread" is a nationwide reality--is that he believes that we will learn that only a very small percent of the population has even been exposed to the virus. The number he gives as an upper range is only 5%. In other words, not even within shouting range of the 40-60% we'd need to achieve any meaningful herd immunity.
So, to begin, if you want to keep tabs on Gottlieb, this is his Twitter feed:
Here is his "reopening" plan:
National coronavirus response: A road map to reopening
And here are the "key points"
- This report provides a road map for navigating through the current COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. It outlines specific directions for adapting our public-health approach away from sweeping mitigation strategies as we limit the epidemic spread of COVID-19, such that we can transition to new tools and approaches to prevent further spread of the disease.
- The authors outline the steps that can be taken as epidemic transmission is brought under control in different regions. They also suggest measurable milestones for identifying when we can make these transitions and start reopening America for businesses and families.
- In each phase, the authors outline the steps that the federal government, working with the states and public-health and health care partners, should take to inform the response. This will take time, but planning for each phase should begin now so the infrastructure is in place when it is time to transition.
And finally, two tweets with embedded videos of interviews with Gottlieb. You'll see he's a well informed guy who comes well prepared to discuss any aspect of this crisis:
Former Trump FDA Commissioner: the reality is we will be back to work before we have the capacity to test at an optimal level. @ScottGottliebMD discusses pic.twitter.com/Qb7pNr90IC— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) April 10, 2020
Sweden has avoided a strict #COVID19 lockdown. What does @ScottGottliebMD think of that approach?— Firing Line with Margaret Hoover (@FiringLineShow) April 10, 2020
He says it would not work here because many younger Americans have serious symptoms. As for “herd immunity,” he says it would require about half of the population to be infected. pic.twitter.com/NaweytQUaB