How You Can Unite the Country, Kill the Virus, and Safely Reopen the Entire Economy in a Single Day: An Open Letter to President Trump
There is a simple, economical, common-sense way to kill the coronavirus and safely reopen the entire economy, and the President can make it happen on September 16th, 2020, the 400th anniversary of the day the Mayflower set sail for America.
Robert Epstein, Ph.D.
Dear Mr. President,
I know you are deeply concerned about the terrible toll the novel coronavirus has taken on America — both the loss of life and the severe damage the virus has done to our otherwise strong economy. I know you also believe we have gotten through the worst of the crisis, and I certainly hope you’re right.
But in some U.S. states and many countries, the coronavirus problem is still getting worse, and your CDC director has predicted a tough winter ahead, when many of us might catch both the flu and COVID-19. More than 40 million Americans are still out of work, and even where we’re reopening, we’re doing so cautiously and in small steps. A full reopening of our economy might not be possible for another year or two.
I’m sure you’ll agree that there is no way for us to know for sure how the virus will affect us in coming months, mainly because we don’t really know how many carriers there are among us.
As you have said, the more we test, the more cases we find. As I write this, we have tested less than 7 percent of the population (click the link for the latest figures), so it’s quite possible that hundreds of thousands of carriers are still out there, unintentionally spreading the virus every day.
But what if we identify all the carriers and then simply separate them from the non-carriers? If we do, transmission of the virus will stop immediately. There will not be a single new case in the entire U.S. from that point on.
Better still, if all the carriers self-isolate, the remainder of the population — easily more than 300 million Americans — will be able to return to work and school immediately without the need for social distancing or masks. We will be able to reopen the entire economy all at once, not in phases.
Best of all, within a few short weeks, the immune systems of the carriers will kill off the virus, thus ending the crisis. (In a small percentage of cases, unfortunately, the virus will end the life of its host, but that death will also kill the virus.)
Wherever carriers have been separated from non-carriers — in Italy, Spain, South Korea, China, and even California — transmission has stopped. This has been accomplished with groups ranging in size from 1,000 to 11 million. No one has done this yet for an entire nation, but you, Mr. President, have the power to do so.
If you do, I believe you will be a role model for the world. You will be the first leader in history to quickly erase a deadly pathogen from an entire nation, and many other countries will follow your lead.
How, you ask? First, you announce our first-ever “National Testing Day” (NTD) — say, September 16th, the 400th anniversary of the day the Mayflower set sail for America.
You explain that all 330 million of us will work together that day to completely destroy the coronavirus that has been disrupting our lives and economy. On the morning of NTD, we will join you, your family and staff, all 50 governors, thousands of mayors, and hundreds of celebrities, in self-testing for the virus — self-testing, you point out, so that no one’s privacy is violated.
We will do this by inserting a sleek little device into our mouths for a few seconds (think: electronic thermometer) and then waiting for a patch on the device to change color: one color means you’re infected, the other means you’re not.
Dozens of these devices will have been mailed to every household in America by the U.S. Postal Service during the weeks leading up to NTD. Undocumented immigrants and the homeless will have been reached by social service agencies and volunteers.
On the afternoon of NTD, you explain, all carriers will self-isolate, and we will provide temporary housing for those who need it. The carriers self-isolate until they test negative — just two or three weeks in most cases — and you can sweeten the deal with a cash payment to carriers who request it.
The Postal Service will also have sent thousands of these little devices to every business, school, and church in the country. This is to screen for people who forgot to self-test or who got a false negative result from their testing device. For a month or two, there will be barrels full of these devices at the entrances to every place people congregate. To be admitted, you need to test negative; otherwise, you’re sent home. The secondary screening at entrances is our safety net.
The devices will also be used — for a long time, perhaps — to screen people at our borders, helping to keep our country safe.
And, yes, Mr. President, suitable self-test devices already exist, with more coming soon, and a single factory in China can produce as many as 5 billion test devices per month, with the per-unit cost dropping to less than 3 cents for large quantities. In other words, this plan is not only fast, it’s also cheap.
You have the power to save thousands of lives and to restore our economy fully without the need for masks or social distancing. You also have the power to eradicate the coronavirus from our great country.
And you can achieve all this well before Election Day.
Will you do this, Mr. President?
Robert Epstein (@DrREpstein) is senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in Vista, California. A Ph.D. of Harvard University, he is the former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today magazine and the author of fifteen books. For further information, visit https://NationalTestingDay.org.