3 Ways Policymakers Could Help Our Nation’s Doctors And Nurses (TIME)

TIME | As a former heart-transplant surgeon and former U.S. Senator, I understand the frustrations many on the front lines of this pandemic are experiencing. Here are three things those doctors and nurses—dedicated but tired, anxious and feeling betrayed by government—wish policymakers would do:

First, strengthen supply chains of personal protective equipment (PPE) and diagnostic tests. We are in a battle with a cagey, deadly virus enemy, but we send our soldiers to war without armor and ammunition. The President should make the dire shortage of masks, shields, gowns and quick tests a national priority, beginning every press conference with a call to action. The tools are many; they should start with the Defense Production Act of 1950.

Second, create a single National Response Portal, conveniently accessible on a single iPad dashboard. To efficiently and wisely make life-or-death decisions in emergency situations, doctors need at their fingertips complete real-time information about the virus—where it is, how to test for it immediately, the timely return of test results, which proven treatments will work, what intensive-care-unit beds are nearby, the whereabouts of ventilators, how much disease is in the neighborhood. This virus is evolving fast. To win, we must evolve faster and smarter.

The portal, which would analyze public-health data, private-sector data, and mobility and traffic patterns, would also provide ongoing community monitoring that would speed the reopening of our schools and businesses as we relax social distancing—and again tighten it if COVID-19 begins to resurface. We’d know: Where is the enemy and where will it strike next?

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