Despite having already trudged through several weeks of quasi-quarantine during this global coronavirus pandemic, our medical professionals have yet to crack the coronavirus code. There is still no cure, no vaccine, and no surefire treatment to be had, which means that Americans are still required to practice social distancing as this is our only line of defense against the highly contagious illness.
Of course, the economic impact of social distancing is enormous in its scope, and there have been a number of suggestions made regarding the most efficient way of offsetting this downturn. Many Americans have received a $1,200 payment from the government, but are awaiting something far more significant in order to sustain a life where the velocity of cash has been dialed back to near-zero.
Now, a gaggle of experts have suggested a new economic stimulus to help keep us safe.
The bipartisan group wrote a letter to Congress on Monday contending that the US should spend $46.5 billion to try to ensure a safe reopening of its economy.
Among the names were Mike Leavitt, a secretary of health and human services under President George W. Bush; Andy Slavitt, who served as the director of Medicare and Medicaid under President Barack Obama; and Scott Gottlieb, President Donald Trump’s former Food and Drug Administration chief. In total, 16 top health experts signed on to the letter to House and Senate leaders, which was first published by NPR.
Their suggestions were wide-ranging.
$12 billion to expand the contract-tracing workforce. The health experts said the number of contract-tracing workers in the US needed to expand by 180,000 until a vaccine was on the market.
$4.5 billion would be used to transform vacant hotels into self-isolation facilities for people unable to isolate in their homes. They estimated about 14% of people needing to self-isolate would require such facilities. They suggested the vacant facilities be used for 18 months to both “contain COVID-19” and “provide a much-needed stimulus for the hospitality industry.”
$30 billion to support people who lose income while voluntarily self-isolating for 14 days. The experts estimated that 40% of people who come in contact with an infected person would need some sort of supplemental income to self-isolate. They recommend $50 a person each day, which is equivalent to the daily pay for someone serving on a federal jury.
Of course, this would require that Congress act swiftly – something that they’ve been incapable of doing for decades.
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