Top Obama Health Official: U.S. Can ‘Virtually Eliminate’ COVID-19 When ‘We Decide To’

The former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Barack Obama went viral with an extensive Twitter thread over the weekend that explains how the United States can “virtually eliminate” the coronavirus “any time we decide to.”

Andy Slavitt shared a 38-tweet thread in which he broke down what would have to be done around the country in order to “manage the illness.” In a matter of four to six weeks, he said, the U.S. could “throw the kitchen sink at COVID-19,” and listed everything that can be done to combat the spread of the virus. Slavitt added that if the country were to follow those steps, “the light at the end of the tunnel would be blinding.”

He began the now-viral thread by saying in his first two tweets: “We can virtually eliminate the virus any time we decide to. We can be back to a reasonably normal existence: schools, travel, job growth, safer nursing homes & other settings. And we could do it in a matter of weeks. If we want to.”

He goes on to explain that other hard-hit countries, like many in Europe, have given the U.S. the tools to combat the virus. 

As for the aforementioned four-to-six-week “kitchen sink” plan, Slavitt proposed six steps that the U.S. could follow immediately “with the goal of being open for business in October — meaning schools, in person voting, sports, everything.”

Slavitt acknowledged that the “economy would take a several week hit” with this plan and “extended unemployment insurance” would be a necessity.

He also added that, at the start of this plan, “COVID truthers would have a field day,” because deaths and cases would still grow. Eventually, however, the rate of transmission would drop. 

After eight weeks, Slavitt projected that there wouldn’t be a total elimination of cases but there would be “embers.” At that point, he said, the U.S. would have more than enough tests, be able to get them back in a timely manner, have access to ample PPE, and that the key to preventing another surge would be to monitor outbreaks.

“Whether we do this or not, let’s not pretend this isn’t an option,” explained Slavitt in the last third of his thread.

Overall, Slavitt said that his plan is what is going to have to happen at some point — it’s just a matter of when. 

As of Monday, the United States has seen more than 4.2 million cases of the virus and nearing 150,000 deaths, according to The New York Times.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said throughout the coronavirus pandemic that the virus will “go away” and has been lambasted by critics for his mishandling of the crisis. 

Last week, for the first time since the pandemic began, Trump seemed to change his tone and conceded that the outbreaks popping up around the country were a problem. He has not announced any drastic changes in his administration’s response to the crisis despite the tonal shift.

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