US needs to implement national lockdown to curb coronavirus spread, say experts: 'It's common sense'

US needs to implement national lockdown to curb coronavirus spread, say experts: 'It's common sense'
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With the United States registering a record number of novel coronavirus cases in the country — the most in the world — there have been surging calls by experts and industry leaders for a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the virus. As COVID-19 cases in the country near a daunting 200,000, fissures have opened up in America's healthcare system, with worst-affected states like New York running out basic PPEs, ventilators and even hospitals.

A 68-bed emergency field hospital was erected on Tuesday, March 31, in New York — the epicenter of Covid-19 in the US — as most medical institutions ran out of space to treat patients.

Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, on Tuesday, also called for a nationwide lockdown, arguing it to be the most effective way to combat the viral spread. Considering multiple studies conducted on the highly contagious nature of the virus, many have begun questioning President Donald Trump on why a national lockdown has not been ordered yet.

Experts have suggested that the US needs to learn from what is happening across the world, take notes, and implement what has been working in multiple countries, stressing that implementation of strict physical distancing tactics is key at the moment.

"We have the opportunity to learn from what is taking place overseas; what's working, what isn't, and we can analyze why and gain strategic foresight," Melissa Agnes
Crisis Management Advisor and Founder of Crisis Ready Institute told MEA Worldwide (MEAWW). "We have seen that the sooner a population implements strict physical distancing tactics, the faster they flatten the curve and the fewer number of infections and deaths. It's common sense given how easily this virus infects."

Agnes added that a worldwide coordinate effort is required at this juncture to combat the virus spread in consideration with countries that have implemented far-reaching physical distancing efforts to stop the spread. The crisis expert suggested that lack of strict physical distancing rules, like a nationwide lockdown, in one country can affect others who have implemented it.

"The initiative to physically distance needs to be a cross-border initiative by every impacted country, since this is a world-crisis and the virus knows no borders," she said. "Otherwise, the countries that are currently physically distancing and beginning to regain control of their infection rates risk a new wave of infection. What one person, one community, one country does right now impacts the global whole. In other words, globally, we are only as strong as the last country to comply and implement this approach and tactic."

Weeks after the novel coronavirus emerged in China, the Chinese government put in place aggressive, far-reaching measures to curb human to human spread. The country put nearly 60 million people under lockdown, restricting the movement of people in and out of Wuhan and Hubei province, considered the first epicenter of the virus outbreak. Nearly a month ago, thousands of new cases were appearing in China each day; the country, however, on March 19, for the first time since the onset of the pandemic, reported no new locally transmitted cases of the viral infection.

Other countries like Italy, Spain, and France, have followed in China's footsteps to place their nations on lockdown, with researchers finding a positive outcome of the measure in Italy, which had become the second epicenter of the virus after China. India also ordered a 21-day national lockdown for 1.3 billion people, the largest cordon sanitaire noted in world history.

With other countries taking concrete measures to curb the virus spread, why hasn't America, which is currently the most impacted country in the world, undertaken those measures yet? President Trump, during his daily White House press briefings, has consistently stated the economic impact of the partial lockdown in certain states, which suggests that looming concerns of an economic downturn in the country might be a key reason behind the reluctance. Experts, however, have suggested that a delayed response could result in Trump losing his credibility.

"Of course there is an economic repercussion to this type of measure, and of course it is extremely challenging to self-confine," Agnes said. "But the sooner we act, the sooner we can begin to pick up the pieces and rebuild. The more lives we can save and the less long-term material impact we will suffer as a community and globally."

"One of the Crisis Ready Rules is: the longer an organization takes to effectively respond to a crisis, the more control over the narrative it loses, the more trust and credibility it loses with its key stakeholders, and the more long-term material impact it suffers," the crisis expert added. "We refer to this as the 'Crisis Response Penalty', or 'CRP'. In our experience, the majority of the time the CRP is mitigable. The CRP to this world crisis is more deaths, more emotional distress, and more economic impact."

At least 24 states in the US have ordered all its residents to shelter in place or stay at home, closing businesses, schools, and workplaces. However, there are other states in the country which have permitted businesses to remain open to public, and have granted freedom to educational institutions to decide whether they want to remain open.

More than 4,000 people have lost their lives in the country to COVID-19 within a month. 

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