We Can Eliminate Covid-19 if We Want To

We are always four to six weeks from being able to do what countries around the world have done

Andy Slavitt
Medium Coronavirus Blog
6 min readJul 27, 2020


Credit: Radoslav Zilinsky / Getty Images

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 and other settings. And we could do it in a matter of weeks. If we want to.

Take New Zealand. With its fancy curve and life back to normal. Why can’t we? Not fair, you say. It’s an island nation. Okay. What about Germany? Not an island nation, large, growing diversity. Don’t like that comparison? What about countries that have been in big trouble? There’s Italy, France, and Spain. Those countries had it reasonably bad the same time we did. In fact, pick virtually any country you want.

But don’t tell me the United States can’t take action if we want to. And we can’t face the families of 150,000 people who didn’t have to die and tell them this had to happen. And I think it’s why our national political leaders won’t go near these families and the grieving process.

The good news — and it is good news — is we are always four to six weeks from being able to do what countries around the world have done.

Let’s say we threw the kitchen sink at Covid-19 in the U.S. Let’s say we started now with the goal of being open for business in October — meaning schools, in-person voting, sports, everything. If we did everything. What would happen?

So let’s define the kitchen sink:

  1. Start with universal mask wearing. We didn’t do this in March and April, and let’s chalk it up to faulty instructions. But we know better now.
  2. Keep the bars and restaurants and churches and transit closed. All hot spots.
  3. Prohibit interstate travel.

4. Prohibit travel into the country (no one will let us into their country so that shouldn’t be hard).

5. Have hotels set up to allow people with symptoms to isolate from their families at no cost.

6. Instead of 50% lockdown (which is what we did in March and April), let’s say it’s a 90% lockdown. Meaning most of the Americans who couldn’t stay home in April because…