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Mobilize the military, private sector in crisis

The pandemic of COVID-19 is a scary and disruptive situation. The world is reeling from the number of infections and deaths. … The global case-fatality rate, i.e. the number infected who actually die, is about 4.1%. In the U.S. the (case-fatality rate) is about 1.4%. COVID-19 is a nasty infection and must be contained from a public health and economic perspective.

Our president has waited too long to head off potentially dire consequences, and now the country is playing catch-up baseball. This is not a reality show. This is reality.

Hospitals have only a finite amount of space, staff and equipment. Managing acute respiratory distress entails an urgent and complex set of clinical interventions. At this point, even though we’re behind the “epidemiologic curve,” there are many things we can do. Some things we are doing, some things we are not doing. Social distancing is good, rapidly expanding testing is good, limiting access to points of contact like restaurants, bars, gyms, church services, and self quarantine, etc. are good. But the eminent danger is COVID-19 can overwhelm the national and state health care systems which will cause additional deaths. So what to do?

The answer is: Get on an expanded “war footing” immediately and enlist the broad and deep resources of our military and private sector. On March 18, the president invoked the 1950 Defense Production Act, but didn’t “pull the trigger.” Today, (he) must earnestly and most thoughtfully implement the DPA to the full extent of (his) power. We constantly praise our military, and indeed it is the greatest military in the world. Our military has unique and broad capabilities, and deals with crises constantly on the battlefield, during natural disasters, and in rescue operations.

Now, and I mean right now, is the time to mobilize the military, including the state National Guards, to help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by expanding testing, getting supplies and equipment out to where they are needed most, and setting up large and numerous field hospitals in every state. For example, airport hangars can become sites for these hospitals and staffed with military doctors, nurses and administrators. Urgent-care supplies and equipment like masks, disinfectants and medicines for underlying conditions and opportunistic infections, as well as respirators and ventilators, can be tapped from existing military stockpiles in the near-term.

Concurrently, the private sector must be tapped to increase production of necessary equipment and supplies like never before. Testing kit production, mask production and drug and vaccine development should be mainstreamed throughout the domestic and the international medical industrial complex. Costs should be regulated domestically so no American has to worry about the cost of COVID-19 infection, care and/or treatment.

Federal first responders and their National Guard counterparts should be mobilized and sent throughout states to help manage urgent cases and maintain social distancing when needed. National and state-based news should present COVID-19 facts objectively, calmly, and with an eye towards stress prevention.

The media should not hyper-inflate the COVID-19 issue. Remember about 100 Americans die daily in car accidents, approximately 36,500 annually, about 105 Americans die daily from the flu, approximately 38,500 annually, and about 175 Americans die daily from drug overdoses, approximately 63,600 annually. America shall endure; she always has.

So, I ask the president and governors, please don’t panic, but please use your powers to mobilize the vast resources of our great country, especially the military and private sector, to the catch up with COVID-19, save American lives, and stabilize American life.

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