The US needs to reset its response with policy actions at the federal, state and local level to get control of the Covid-19 pandemic, scholars at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security said in a new report Wednesday.
“Unlike many countries in the world, the United States is not currently on course to get control of this epidemic,” the report says. “It is time to reset.”
The report includes 10 recommendations that include universal mask mandates, federal leadership to improve testing and, in places where transmission is worsening, stay-at-home orders.
Nonpharmaceutical measures, like universal mask use and social distancing, should be the same in the US as they have been in other successful countries around the world. Without these, it will be difficult to maintain control on outbreaks.
The report says state, local and federal leaders should mandate non-medical mask use in public and limit large indoor gatherings. Leaders at all levels should also “speak in unison in support of these core public health approaches to controlling this disease.”
States should stop high risk activities and settings in areas that have rising test positivity, but no signs of crisis in hospitals or rising deaths. In areas where the situation is worse, stay-at-home orders should be reinstated, the report says.
The US response to the epidemic will be severely constrained without a reliable and efficient testing system, the report says. One of the things the authors suggest to combat this is the federal government working with states and commercial labs to identify challenges in quickly returning tests and work out a way to overcome these.
A vaccine will “dramatically change the course of the response and offer the opportunity to enhance protection of those most vulnerable individuals,” the report says.
There is also a lot to be done around community acceptance of any eventual coronavirus vaccine, the report says.
“With misinformation and vaccine hesitancy remaining prominent issues affecting public health, vaccination campaigns will not be successful if they are not executed with sensitivity to the current climate around trust of public institutions and if they do not incorporate multidisciplinary expertise in decision-making groups,” the report says.