The 4 things the US is doing wrong in the fight against COVID-19, and what we should be doing instead

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Chris Duncan, whose 75 year old mother Constance died from COVID on her birthday, photographs a COVID Memorial Project installation of 20,000 American flags on the National Mall as the United States counted 200,000 lives lost in the COVID-19 pandemic, September 22, 2020 in Washington, DC.

  • We’ve been living pandemic life for a year now.
  • Insider has identified 4 ways we could be living with COVID-19 better, right now.
  • Safer travel, savvier surveillance, and well-regulated masks are all areas we can improve, and the results could be huge.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

After a year of pandemic life, better days appear to be on the horizon.

“By July the 4th, there’s a good chance you, your families, and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout and a BBQ and celebrate Independence Day,” President Biden said Thursday, on the one year anniversary of World Health Organization’s pandemic declaration.

Biden’s projection lines up well with what other experts have said: by this summer, things won’t be perfect, but we will be living life again, reconnecting with family and friends.

Yet the virus will still be with us well beyond then for many, many months to come. Even as tens of millions of vaccines have started to take effect, the relief they provide is muffled by the fact that there are still no great treatments for this coronavirus yet.

“This is not the last pandemic we’re all gonna face, and we will need to do much, much better next time around,” Brown University dean of public health Ashish Jha told reporters on the pandemic’s anniversary this week.

“We just can’t repeat this performance again, it has been so awful,” he said.

Knowing that, here are the four things we could clearly be doing better to live alongside the virus more safely and more tolerably, right now.

1. Forget abstinence. We should be encouraging the right kinds of travel.

disney world pandemic

There’s no reason that grandparents can’t fly around the country to see their grandkids this summer, with some level of continued vigilance. 

“I don’t believe it’s unsafe,” Jha said. 

Read Insider’s report on how we can travel without spreading COVID-19

2. Everyone should have cheap and easy at-home COVID-19 test kits.

Color COVID 19 test site
More COVID-19 tests should be available for use at home.

There is truly no good reason why we don’t.

“We have more than enough technology and ability to have widespread antigen testing available for the American people at probably $3, 4 bucks a pop,” Jha said. “Cheap, easy.”

Let’s make it happen. 

Read Insider’s report on how testing could be improved.

3. We should stop wasting time contact tracing for COVID-19.

Contact tracing

Contact tracing the coronavirus is a waste of precious resources. Instead, we should focus more on variant surveillance. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci calls this a “somewhat inexcusable deficiency.”

Read Insider’s report on how the US should step up its genetic sequencing game — fast — and let the contact tracers of the country do other vitally important work.

4. We should hack-a-thon our way to better masks.

covid masks
Sandra Martínez sews a face mask at her atelier.

“You have basically an unregulated bunch of products, nobody really knows how they perform,” University of Wisconsin mechanical engineering professor David Rothamer said.

Crowdsourcing creative solutions to such tough design issues is something the federal government has done before. Just ask NASA. 

Read Insider’s report on how we could have much comfier, safer (and perhaps more stylish) masks.

Read the original article on Business Insider