Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist has a stark message for U.S. leaders: “Shut down the country everywhere now to quell the spread of the Corona virus (COVID-19). Failing to do so would be a recipe for disaster”

In an article published in The Washington Post on Tuesday March 31, 2020 he said the U.S. had already “missed the opportunity to get ahead” of the virus. But, he stressed, it wasn’t too late for mitigating actions.

“The choices we and our leaders make now will have an enormous impact on how soon case numbers start to go down, how long the economy remains shut down and how many Americans will have to bury a loved one”

He recommended three immediate steps that need to be taken:

1.  The country needs “a consistent nationwide approach to shutting down,” “Despite urging from public health experts, some states and counties haven’t shut down completely. 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. The country’s leaders need to be clear: Shutdown anywhere means shutdown everywhere,”
Gates estimated that it could take 10 weeks or more for case numbers to start decreasing across the country ― and until then, “no one can continue business as usual or relax the shutdown.”
“Any confusion about this point will only extend the economic pain, raise the odds that the virus will return, and cause more deaths,” he wrote.

2.  The federal government needs to ramp up its testing efforts. That means making more tests available and developing more efficient testing methods ― and ensuring that high-priority individuals, including health-care workers and first responders, as well as symptomatic people who are at risk of becoming seriously ill, are tested first.

3. Finally, Gates said it was critical for the U.S. to adopt a “data-based approach” to developing treatments for the virus and, as soon as possible, a vaccine.