(Washington, DC) – United States of Care, a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to access to quality, affordable health care released a letter on ways the country can open safely.
“People across the country are worried about their health, safety, and their personal economic security as well as the country’s. They want states to reopen, but it must be done safely so we can ensure another outbreak doesn’t occur,” stated United States of Care Executive Director Emily Barson. “At United States of Care, we have spent months listening to people from across the country and have heard their concerns about their health and the health of the economy. We know that COVID-19 has affected them economically and that they are worried about the future. If done correctly, with the appropriate precautions, states and the country can re-open safely and we can begin to get back to normal.”
#OpenSafely launched yesterday with a letter signed by United States of Care Executive Director Emily Barson along with Board and Founders Council members joined many other experts including, Andy Slavitt, MBA-Board Chair; Former Acting Administrator, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Jim Douglas–Board Member and Former Governor of Vermont, Bill Frist, M.D.–Board Member and Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader from Tennessee, David Durenberger, Former U.S. Senator from Minnesota, J. Mario Molina, M.D-Board Member and Founding Dean, KGI School of Medicine, David Brailer, M.D., PhD-Chairman, Health Evolution, Tom Daschle–Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader from South Dakota, Rebekah E. Gee, MD, MPH-CEO, Louisiana State University Health Care Services, Bill George, MBA–Professor of Management Practice & Henry B. Arthur Fellow of Ethics, Harvard Business School, Penny George, PsyD-Co-founder, Penny George Institute for Health and Healing; Board Chair, George Family Foundation, Sandra Hernandez, MD-President and CEO, California Health Care Foundation, Robert Kocher, M.D.-Former Assistant to the President, National Economic Council, Mark McClellan, MD, PhD– Founding Director and Professor, the Robert J Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke University, Benjamin F. Miller, PsyD-Chief Strategy Officer, Well Being Trust, Janice E. Nevin, MD, MPH-President and CEO, ChristianaCare, Penny Wheeler, MD-President and CEO, Allina Health
The group further goes onto lay out a broad plan to reopen safely by:
- Following the plan laid out by Dr. Birx to begin opening communities up with 2 weeks of declining case counts and the other gating criteria met – or explaining how there is an alternative plan for containment if that condition is not met
- Creating adequate diagnostic testing availability so that people who need a test can get one – particularly people with symptoms, and those without symptoms in high-risk settings like nursing homes, prisons, and meatpacking plants
- Implementing improved safety standards and protocols to avoid outbreaks and slow spreading in potential hot spots
- Having adequate public health infrastructure to contact trace and offer voluntary isolation to contain the virus when it is detected – not necessarily to trace all cases successfully, but enough to minimize potential outbreak clusters and keep getting better over time
- Protecting vulnerable and at risk-populations and hard-hit communities and not putting essential workers at needless risk
- Obtaining sufficient PPE to protect our first responders and health care workforce, including by expanding access to testing in the community
States under both Republican and Democratic leadership are ramping up contact tracing because it is a critical component to beginning to reopen schools and businesses while limiting the spread of Coronavirus. Late last week, United States of Care released a report on the state of contract tracing methods in the United States and held a telebriefing on this topic. It is critically important that Congress appropriate additional funding for contact tracing, as well as testing; United States of Care called for Federal funding to support states on this crucial step for a smooth and safe transition back to normalcy.