The US Needs a Wartime Effort to Win the Coronavirus Battle

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Please consider using a different web browser for better experience. Please enable JavaScript in your browser for a better site experience. The US Needs a Wartime Effort to Win the Coronavirus Battle Mar 23, 2020 at 10:00 UTC opinion Teddy Fusaro The US Needs a Wartime Effort to Win the Coronavirus Battle Teddy Fusaro is the chief operating officer at Bitwise Asset Management, a cryptocurrency asset management firm in San Francisco. He has held management and leadership positions at alternative asset management companies for the past decade, and began his career at Goldman Sachs. As America battles the invisible enemy of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), an exponentially growing silent killer, we find ourselves in a situation that is unprecedented in scale, in danger to our fellow citizens, and in the economic destruction and financial shock it is already causing. To battle this invisible enemy we need to understand that we are facing three distinct threats. All three require different policy tools and coordinated actions, and those actions must be taken at ‘wartime scale.’ Each of the three require an unparalleled, full scale, American war effort, and without that effort, we will not win, and will not emerge as the world’s superpower that we are today. I believe that America is equal to the task, and that this can prove to be our finest hour, but we must change now, and do more, faster. The three different threats – the three-headed monster we are battling – are intertwined and entangled, much as our modern world is. Three Crises First, and most dire, is the public health crisis, which will infect and kill increasing numbers of Americans and overwhelm our hospital systems and medical care professionals, our heroes on the frontlines of this battle. It will be particularly deadly for our older and already ill friends, neighbors, and family. We have data from China (though questionable), South Korea, Italy, Iran, Europe, and now the US that gives a clear sense of what we are facing, and it can’t be ignored. In this war, our doctors, nurses, and healthcare clinicians should be thought of as our soldiers marching to the front. We must do all that we can to arm them and protect them. The second is an economic crisis, the severity and speed of which we have never seen, not even in the Great Depression during the 1930s. Goldman Sachs estimated that more than 2 million Americans would file for unemployment benefits last week. During the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, the highest weekly level was less than a quarter of that figure. Prior recessions have been slowdowns in economic activity relatively speaking. This is not that – it is a sudden halt. And it must be offset by an equal and opposite force.
The financial crisis must be stemmed so we have the circulatory system to fight the first two. The third emergency is a financial crisis that has permeated the financial system as markets respond to the disruptions caused by the first two, with asset values declining rapidly, and liquidity becoming discontinuous and disjointed in key arteries that allow for modern commerce. The financial crisis must be stemmed so we have the circulatory system to fight the first two. Much as America failed to win the first battle of this war – through its inability to properly test for the virus at scale in the way that South Korea did – we are now running the risk of compounding our errors through the inability to diagnose the magnitude of each issue. On the first issue, America simply does not have the option to back away from the quarantines, isolations, and social distancing measures that have been rolled out over the past ten days. The only way to slow the spread of the virus and to protect those who will otherwise die from sickness is to reduce the number of those who become infected, and the only way we can do that is through quarantine, isolation, and social distancing. See also: The US Should Use Stablecoins for Emergency Coronavirus Payments Otherwise, as we have seen in Italy and in Iran, the healthcare system will simply be overrun, like a cup held beneath a running faucet (some amount of this will happen in America already, given our slow start, but we must do what we can to limit the loss of life). This not only kills more people – at a scale not seen since the Pandemic Flu of 1918. It also endangers our heroes, the doctors, nurses, and medical professionals who will try to save as many lives as they can. Green Zones and Red Zones America must close the borders of highly contagious clusters (New York, Washington state, and likely others) to prevent those “Red Zones” (areas with high levels of infection) from exporting the virus to relatively healthy parts of the nation (“Green Zones”). Green zones (areas with relatively low community spread) can re-engage in economic activity substantially sooner than Red Zones, but if we continue to allow travel between regions, we won’t have any Green Zones to protect, and no economic ...