The US government is reportedly preparing for a coronavirus pandemic that will last 18 months or more and will result in “significant deficits for the government, the private sector and individual US consumers”.
A 100-page US government plan was leaked to The New York Times, which today published an article summarizing the highlights.
“A federal government plan to fight the coronavirus warned policymakers last week that a pandemic will ‘last 18 months or more’ and could involve ‘several waves’, resulting in widespread shortages that would tax consumers and the national health care system.” , according to the Times. wrote.
The 18-month figure matches best-case estimates of how long it will take to develop a vaccine and make it widely available. Millions could be killed in the US and UK alone during that time, but social distancing and other containment measures could limit the death toll, according to research from Imperial College London we wrote about yesterday.
The Times has not published the full US government report. “Much of the plan is bureaucratic in nature, detailing inter-agency coordination and actions already taken in some cases, such as urging schools to close and cancel major events,” the article said.
The plan’s warnings include the following:
- Product shortages can occur, affecting healthcare, emergency services and other parts of critical infrastructure… This may include critical shortages of diagnostics, medical supplies (including PPE [personal protective equipment] and pharmaceuticals), and personnel at some locations.
- State and local governments, as well as critical infrastructure and communication channels, will be stressed and may be less reliable. These tensions can also increase the challenge of getting updated messages and coordinating guidance directly to these jurisdictions.
The Times article said the plan listed actions President Trump could take, such as “invoking the Defense Production Act of 1950, a Korean War-era law that authorizes a president to take extraordinary measures to protect U.S. industry.” force production of critical equipment and supplies such as ventilators, respirators and protective equipment for healthcare workers to be ramped up.”
Trump said on Tuesday that “we hope we don’t have to invoke” the Defense Production Act, but that “we will make that decision pretty soon if we need to,” the Times wrote.
Other options for the US mentioned in the government plan include distributing medical supplies and equipment from the Strategic National Stock Pill, providing money to states to help them meet demands brought on by the outbreak of the coronavirus and prioritizing the distribution of essential resources to focus on areas most in need,” the Times wrote.
Update at 12:53 PM ETTrump announced today that he will invoke the Defense Production Act “just in case we need it”.