Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates called for the government to take drastic steps – including a nationwide shutdown – in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The billionaire wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post earlier this week, where he outlined the three steps the nation must take in the COVID-19 fight.
“Despite urging from public health experts, some states and counties haven’t shut down completely,” he wrote in The Washington Post. “In some states, beaches are still open; in others, restaurants still serve sit-down meals. This is a recipe for disaster. Because people can travel freely across state lines, so can the virus.”
Gates said a shutdown – which could be 10 weeks or more – means everything needs to be shut down, which includes day-to-day life. He said any confusion with such measures would only extend the economic burden and continue to let the virus live on, which would cause more deaths.
More than 234,000 cases have been reported in the US, with over 5,700 deaths as of Thursday afternoon, according to The New York Times.
Gates’ second call to action was urging the government to increase testing, which could help return life to normal in the US with clinical trials. He said essential workers such as health-care professionals and first responders should be at the top of the list.
Creating a vaccine with a data-based approach and rapid trials was Gates’ third point. He said a vaccine could be created in less than 18 months with such an approach. But Gates warned there’s still a long road ahead.
“As we’ve seen this year, we have a long way to go. But I still believe that if we make the right decisions now, informed by science, data and the experience of medical professionals, we can save lives and get the country back to work,” he said.