By Harris Cohen, MD
The United States continues to be a standout on the world stage, but not in a positive way. For a country with tremendous wealth, intelligence, and resources, our coronavirus response has been embarrassing at best, abysmal at worst. Recent graphs show a distinct rise in cases here, compared to an impressive decline in Europe (and now they do not want us to visit). The lack of a unified approach to testing and diagnosis is the major issue, and this is where the need for a respected national task force is necessary. Gone are the daily press conferences. Gone are the daily Hermes scarves worn by Dr. Birx. Gone is any sense that our country is organized and unified in our approach to defeat this pandemic.
As a primary care physician with 17 years experience, here is my vision for what is needed:
- A respected chair of the task force. This choice is obvious — Dr. Anthony Fauci. He is a respected scientist, widely trusted, and speaks like a professor and a Goodfella at the same time. He is likable. He speaks with gravitas and is not an alarmist. He has my nomination to lead the task force.
- We need six regional governors — Three Democrats and three Republicans so we can eliminate any political angles that jeopardize our path forward. These governors will help shape policy in their geographies, as there is consistency in case numbers and case severity by region. Bipartisanship on this committee is mandatory.
- We need a daily report that is clear and concise with minimal information so as not to muck up the waters. Each governor briefly presents the data for the 8–9 states in his or her region. We need 4 pieces of information:
- How many tests were performed
- How many tests were positive (positive test rate)
- How many people are hospitalized with COVID-related disease
- How many ICU beds are filled as a percentage of all ICU beds available.
That is it. Show the state or region, show these 4 numbers, show me the 7–14 day trend, and move on.
- Joining Dr. Fauci and the six governors will be the head of the CDC, the head of Operation Warp Speed, and a moderator. My vote for moderator is Alex Trebek — everyone trusts him, he can pronounce big words, and Jeopardy is on hiatus.
- Not joining the committee will be additional politicians. Not only are they unable to interpret the data correctly, but then the data is bent to their political leanings. It is time to separate science from politics. I have never seen a Venn diagram where the science circle and the politics circle overlapped. By focusing on science and timely, accurate data, we can begin to regain the trust of the American public. Let’s report and share facts, and educate the lay public. Stop with the attention-grabbing headlines and clickbait that only fuels fear and hysteria. States should be held to the highest standards when sharing their daily data.
- The report will be aired once daily, at 9PM Eastern, Monday through Saturday. Any network can carry the coverage. Sundays will be reserved for a panel Q&A with the press pool, allowing each journalist/reporter to ask one question. Trebek of course will moderate, and the answers do not have to be phrased in the form of a question. Civility will return, and with it, the comfort and trust of a scared populace.
You can read more from Dr. Cohen here: Harris Cohen, MD