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“It’s not too late to go on the offense against the coronavirus”: The New Yorker: a five-point plan against COVID-19: physical distancing, testing, contact tracing, isolation, and treatment.


photo by Susanne Jutzeler courtesy of

The New Yorker on April 20 published an article by Jim Yong Kim titled “It’s not too late to go on offense against the coronavirus”.

The five main categories of offensive action against the novel coronavirus (SARS-COV-2) are as follows: 1) social (physical) distancing; 2) contact tracing; 3) testing; 4) isolation; and 5) treatment.

These strategies have been employed by the countries with the best records against the virus: South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.  The article describes how these strategies can bring the spread of the virus under control, even at this late date.  The author describes how Massachusetts (to which he is a special advisor) is beginning to implement the elements of this aggressive plan.  The Broad Institute is also going to help.

We need considerable help to implement these elements.  Contact tracing requires people who can do the “shoe leather” detective work.  Isolation requires direct assistance to those who are quarantined, to help them with food, shelter, and medicine– and to explain to their bosses why they can’t come to work.  Medically supervised isolation facilities are also needed.  Treatment requires research and production of new medicines.

All of these things require a lot of work.  It is better to engage in this work than it is to just shelter in place and hope for the best.  Rather than just throw money at impacted businesses, we should invest in hiring and supporting the people who can do the work needed to trace and isolate all contacts.

From the article:

When we presented our plan to Governor Baker, he didn’t say that it was too expensive or too hard or too late. He said, “We have to do this. We have no choice. It feels like we’re just sitting and waiting. We have to go on offense against the virus.”


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