Commentary: Preparing for the worst

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We need to prepare for the possibility, perhaps even the likelihood, that our health care system is on the threshold of becoming overwhelmed, to the point of collapse. What is needed is a rapid response with sweeping measures.

As a former nurse who has been pondering the coronavirus response, I have a few suggestions for action on the local, state and federal levels:

Test all workers whose jobs are now considered essential, including health care workers, bus drivers and food workers, for COVID-19 as soon as possible, using the most accurate methods available.

Recruit citizens to work as backup emergency workers. Test these workers and admit them to training and living centers (vacant schools, dorms, hotels) using strict protocols. Those who test positive should be quarantined in separate buildings where others, including coronavirus-infected people, can care for those who are sick.

Everyone needs to learn and engage in the best practices regarding COVID-19 protective measures.

We need a coronavirus call center and daily informational broadcasts to help connect people to important services, information and volunteer opportunities. This needs to happen through media including radio, daily newspapers, TV and all internet-based platforms.

Test all prisoners and prison staff for COVID-19 and release all inmates imprisoned for nonviolent crimes, those who are elderly and pose no significant safety risk and those who have shown substantial evidence of rehabilitation and readiness to return to the community. Those who test positive for COVID-19 should be released to appropriate settings to keep themselves and others safe.

We should postpone all in-person voting activities and give all communities at least several weeks to expand and promote voting by mail. Voting by mail should be the preferred option nationally until this crisis passes.

These are just a few ideas to consider, in pursuit of our main goals: to prevent the spread of this virus and care for all whose lives and health are now in danger.



Tim Cordon is a peace and justice activist in Madison, Wis. This column was produced for the Progressive Media Project, which is operated by The Progressive magazine, and distributed by Tribune News Service.


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