Our nation is polarized. Some people want to completely reopen the country to save our jobs and the economy, while others do not want to reopen because a few dozen infected Americans in early March has led to over 1.5 million becoming infected (and nearly 90,000 deaths), so they worry about what will happen now as we reopen with 17 million people currently infected.
But is there a way to reopen our nation safely?
The answer is yes! We should immediately conduct voluntary nationwide testing! That way the 95% of us who are not infected at this time can safely return to work, while the 5% (17 million people) who are infected can stay home to recover or get treated.
So far only 2% of Americans have been tested, so we don’t really know who the 17 million infected are, and the only way to find out is to conduct national testing as soon as possible.
To do that, we would need to perform 10 million tests per day. That is a significantly higher quantity than our current 200,000 tests per day, which is only a fraction of the target amount.
But is such high-speed testing even feasible? Yes! There are cities around the world that are now testing nearly 2 million people per day. So if a single city can achieve that amount daily, our country should be able to test at least 10 million Americans per day.
This solution clearly offers the safest approach to reopening our nation, so the question is why aren’t we doing this?
The reason is that right now our nation is so gridlocked as both sides have been busy criticizing each other that the merit of the issue itself has actually been largely ignored! The answer is right in front of us but we can’t see it, like a blind spot.
To see the issue itself, we have to overcome our habitual polarization and find common ground. We need to listen, see things from each other’s perspective, and aspire to the higher goal of putting our nation’s best interest ahead of our own.
Finding common ground right now will not only help us discover a solution (i.e., voluntary national testing), but also, and even more importantly, inspire all of us to change and become more willing to work together in the future.
We can do it! We are Americans and we thrive on innovating and overcoming obstacles! We can conduct the necessary testing if we set our minds to it. Though a vaccine may or may not be available by the end of the year, the ability to test for this virus has been well established. We simply need to make testing our priority.
Speaking of tests, this issue is really a test of our national character. Combating this virus has somehow polarized us even further, and it is up to us now to show that we can in fact put our nation’s interest first and find common ground. Common ground is when: we all care about human lives, and we all care about our jobs and the economy. So let’s do both — voluntarily test our nation as soon as possible as we reopen.
If we do this, we will not only protect the lives of many more Americans and save our economy, but also make this our generation’s finest hour that shows that we as Americans can indeed overcome our differences and come together at this most critical point in our nation’s history.
Dr. Ming Wang, Harvard & MIT (MD, magna cum laude); PhD (laser physics), is the co-founder of the Common Ground Network. He can be reached at email@example.com.