Though it may seem the US missed its chance to get ahead of the coronavirus, one prominent name sees glimmers of hope. In a Washington Post op-ed, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates notes that "the choices we and our leaders make now will have an enormous impact on how soon case numbers start to go down, how long the economy remains shut down, and how many Americans will have to bury a loved one." First, Gates points out, there's no current consistent approach for getting people to stay home. "The country's leaders need to be clear: Shutdown anywhere means shutdown everywhere," he writes, adding "any confusion about this point will only extend the economic pain, raise the odds that the virus will return, and cause more deaths." Second, Gates notes, our testing efforts—both in number of tests available and in how they're administered—need improvement.
Self-test swabs that don't expose health care workers, as well as better prioritization on who gets the tests, are just two areas Gates is pushing for. The third bullet point, per Gates: "a data-based approach to developing treatments and a vaccine." He notes that although scientists are working as fast as they can to develop both, "leaders can help by not stoking rumors or panic buying." Gates says we may very well be able to achieve a vaccine in less than 18 months, but in combination with that, we have to ensure we have enough doses for everyone, and enough facilities to manufacture them. In short, though things look dire and "we still have a long way to go ... I still believe that if we make the right decisions now, informed by science, data, and the experience of medical professionals, we can save lives and get the country back to work," Gates writes. More from him here. (Read more Bill Gates stories.)