It’s Wednesday, March 25. A $2-trillion relief package in response to the coronavirus pandemic crawls toward the finish line. Such legislation could give life to the argument, most common on the left, that big government can be, and do, good.
In the rest of today’s newsletter: How this will play out. Plus: Is an extended national shutdown now the least worst option?
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The U.S. may end up with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the industrialized world. Our science writer Ed Yong reports in this single most important story of the current moment how this will all play out, and explores the changes that need to be made urgently for the U.S. to come back from the brink.
The first and most important is to rapidly produce masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment. If health-care workers can’t stay healthy, the rest of the response will collapse. In some places, stockpiles are already so low that doctors are reusing masks between patients, calling for donations from the public, or sewing their own homemade alternatives. These shortages are happening because medical supplies are made-to-order and depend on byzantine international supply chainsthat are currently straining and snapping. Hubei province in China, the epicenter of the pandemic, was also a manufacturing center of medical masks.