Americans sacrificed to flatten the curve. Their leaders have let them down.

Americans sacrificed to flatten the curve. Their leaders have let them down.

The road back will be even harder now than it was in March. The United States is experiencing multiple outbreaks from California to Florida that will seed more infections in the weeks and months ahead. The hope that summer’s warm weather would help, that the sacrifices made in March and April would be sufficient, that a miracle cure would arrive — all have been dashed. The United States faces a crisis unseen in recent generations, and if it deepens, the pain won’t be only in illness and death but also in education and economics. It is time to return to first principles. We need a colossal effort, a Manhattan Project, to fight the virus, and we don’t have it. Experts have identified the best strategy: test, to find out who is sick; trace, to find out who may be sick; and isolate those who are suffering. Personal habits must accompany this: wearing face masks, hand washing, physical distancing and avoiding crowds in enclosed spaces. The strategy worked in nations that pursued it with conviction, such as South Korea and Germany. But in the United States, testing began in chaos and still lags what’s needed to suppress or even mitigate the virus, according to a useful analysis just published by the Harvard Global Health Institute and NPR. To reach a goal of mitigation, or keeping the ratio of positive tests below 10 percent, would require 1.2 million tests a day; the United States is currently performing about 570,000. The analysis found ...
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