Election season is here (Washington State, USA), and I was reminded to write up my metric for politicians, because it's very simple, and in four parts. There is no issue more important to me than a human-rights-preserving suppression of the pandemic, which would require only four steps.
1) Legalize all COVID-19 testing
The FDA and the CDC have been delaying approval for new tests, but FDA guidance now lets state determine usage on their own terms – potentially only for tests they procure, so state purchase guarantees may be important. There are simple tests that can get results within 15 minutes, and they should be highly available. There are issues with sourcing chemical precursors and reagents, but Washington can create longer-term purchase guarantees for exclusive suppliers, mitigating the risk of industrial re-tooling.
2) Have rapid and highly available test results
People should not need to go home to await test results. Community spread through the home is both very common, and very commonly across-risk-group. School age kids might not have much to worry about if they contract the disease, but their parents will. This requires fever clinics being more easily available, and tests being processed both on-site and immediately after being taken.
3) When people test positive, have effective contract tracing done as fast as possible.
The current standards hope for nearly complete contact tracing with 48 hours – a more realistic understanding of the spread of the virus would suggest we get serious about same-day contract tracing being the standard. This means hiring substantially more than the roughly 2,100 currently hired for Washington state.
4) Isolate infected Washingtonians until they're no longer infectious.
Rent entire hotels, set up places where infected people can wait this process out without exposing anyone else. This also gives people simple access to any needed healthcare. With the current rates of SARS-CoV-2, knowing you're positive and not isolating is leading to exponential spread, and is bordering on negligent homicide. Putting people on house arrest, or merely suggesting they stay home is not enough. I wish it were, but we measure success by reality. Make sure people are comfortable. Make sure people can receive their belongings from home – but not in person, just dropped off as a box without exposing the person bringing objects to any risk. Things enter quarantine, they don't mingle outside of it, and staff is limited to people who've tested positive for antibodies, if possible, and of course all staff needs to live on site.
Wear masks if you're remotely close to someone. Stay outdoors if at all possible. Avoid crowds, of course, but also just avoid people you aren't isolating with. Delay necessary but risky behavior (such as dentist visits).