The White House Is Mulling a New Pandemic Strategy

The White House, as it ramps up its efforts to develop a new strategy to combat the coronavirus, is evaluating a plan from outside experts whose recommendations include:

  • More muscular air filtration systems in public buildings.
  • Billions of dollars in research.
  • A significant overhaul of the national healthcare system.

The panel of more than two dozen experts was led by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania who advised President Biden’s transition team. The group includes former federal officials who have served as presidents of both parties. They spent most of this week behind closed doors, meeting with government scientists and top health officials.

The New York Times received a draft of its 136-page plan from a person who attended the meetings, who said the White House asked Emanuel’s team to provide cost estimates for some of his recommendations.

The plan, entitled “The Road to and Maintaining the Next Normality: A Roadmap for Living with Covid,” reflects the same “Things are getting better, but we’re not out of the woods yet” tone that the president himself has adopted in recent weeks. It guides leading the country out of the crisis at a time when, as the authors write, the United States is still “far from normal.”

“The mood of the American public, the demands of the economy and society, and the challenges posed by a virus that constantly surprises experts present new and unique challenges,” the authors write. “Trying to eliminate Covid is unrealistic. Instead, the nation should plan to mitigate it, prepare for options, and move towards the next normality.”

White House officials stressed that Mr. Biden’s coronavirus response team has been discussing with governors, business leaders, and health experts for several weeks how to review its strategy for the next phase of the pandemic.

Dr. Emanuel’s team settled on ten general recommendations. His report suggests fewer deaths from Covid-19 in 2022 than in 2021 and calls on the federal government to develop key metrics that public health officials can use to decide when to impose or ease emergency measures such as wearing masks and social distancing. Economists determine the health of an economy using a variety of indicators, most notably unemployment, inflation, and GDP growth,” the authors write. “Similarly, the Respiratory Virus Dashboard will consist of several important metrics.”

The authors also urge the government to launch a new research initiative, modeled on the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, to develop new and more effective therapeutics and vaccines that can work against all variants of the coronavirus.

They want the Environmental Protection Agency to develop new air quality standards to prevent indoor transmission of the virus, a more robust scientific response to the “long Covid,” new rules to make it easier for medical professionals to make virtual visits, and initiatives to improve school safety. and jobs. “From now on, the nation must do much more to keep schools open,” the authors write.

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