The Coronavirus is a serious challenge that government and the public must confront. It will require a major government effort to fight it.
On March 18th, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. A one-page summary is here: Summary of Families First Coronavirus Response Act (PDF)
For years, the CDC has been warning of a pandemic. Few have listened. Hereafter, virtually all will take the risk of pandemics seriously. A March 7-8, 2020 Wall Street Journal article titled “Global Outbreaks Are Likely to Continue” includes the following quote from Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based nonprofit research group that built a database tracking disease events locally: “I’m not holding in my bunker right now. We’re going to get hit by a much bigger one sometime in the next 10 years.” (Bolding emphasis added)
We need to “flatten the curve.” Many are now (prudently) working from home. As of March 20, 2020, the CDC (i.e. the expert) recommends taking the following protective actions:
Clean your hands often
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Stay home if you’re sick
- Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.
Cover coughs and sneezes
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Throw used tissues in the trash.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Wear a facemask if you are sick
- If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.
- If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.
Clean and disinfect
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection
A targeted approach to the economic problem should be made, making individuals who lose income through no fault of their own (taking into account replacement work) whole, and providing loans to solvent businesses. Sending checks to everyone who is not rich will do little good, particularly when many don’t need it and many cannot or will not go out to spend it.
We need to learn from the Coronavirus experience, to be able to handle the next pandemic. Let’s keep the facilities that are created as make-shift hospitals available for future use, while stockpiling things we know we’ll need, like respirators.
For years, very similar to the pandemic risk, federal agencies (including the GAO, SSA and CBO) and private financial organizations have been warning of a federal debt crisis. Very similar to the pandemic warning, few have listened. If our nation’s leaders had balanced the budget each year since 2012 (as they should have), spending $2-3 trillion on the pandemic would not have been a big deal. But, they didn’t, and thus much greater constraints exist. A tremendous amount of money will be printed, potentially causing conservative savers to lose dearly. As soon as the Coronavirus passes, our country needs to immediately get its financial house in order. We need to balance the budget every year the U.S. is not experiencing a recession or worse. On this website are a page that explains how the national debt impacts ordinary Americans and means of solving the financial problems. The debt needs to be placed under control to allow traditional monetary policy tools to potentially work, and to allow our nation to survive the next pandemic.