WASHINGTON—The National Coronavirus Recovery Commission announced a new set of recommendations today to guide governors, local leaders, federal officials, and the private sector with the steps necessary to reduce the risks of future pandemics. The commission has now put forward 264 recommendations that represent a strategy for achieving a prudent balance to protect both lives and livelihoods.
The commission held its fourth meeting Tuesday, bringing together 17 top experts and thinkers with experience in government, public health, disaster response and relief, academia and education, business, and the faith community.
The newest recommendations focus on the steps that government leaders and the private sector can take to prevent future pandemics. Effective preparedness requires looking back at where big-government policies failed and providing solutions for governments at every level to better understand the scope of both their responsibility and accountability before the next crisis.
Highlights of the latest recommendations, released today, are below.
- State policymakers, working with Congress as necessary, should prepare a new strategy to better equip hospitals to cope with a major pandemic.
- State legislatures should review (and possibly revise) their statutory grants of emergency powers to governors in light of executive actions taken throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
- State and local governments should set aside a minimum of two months of operating expenditures or roughly 16% of expenditures for times of crisis as suggested by the Government Finance Officers.
- State and local governments should work to reopen K-12 classrooms and take targeted measures to protect student and teacher health.
- State and local governments should put in place plans for transit systems to protect the public and workers during epidemics, and should reform transit agency operations to reduce financial vulnerability.
- The Trump administration should develop and submit to Congress a plan to restructure and reform federal public health agencies’ functions within HHS to ensure quicker and more effective responses to future epidemics, pandemics, and infectious diseases.
- President Trump should develop an Executive Order to task his Cabinet with examining and evaluating the crisis response systems related to this pandemic, and developing recommendations for future preparedness.
- Federal agencies should streamline access to spectrum to accelerate deployment of the 5G network.
- Congress should pay for some of the stimulus spending with the sale of federal property.
- Congress should create a more friendly environment to encourage medical supply and pharmaceutical companies, researchers and investment to return to the United States.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit nursing homes communities, the elderly, and minority communities particularly hard. Hospitalizations are a disproportionately large problem among the elderly and 80% of COVID-19 deaths are among people aged 65 and older. Nursing home deaths represent anywhere from 27% to 51% of all COVID-19 deaths. Available data indicates that death rates of African American and Hispanic persons are 204% and 164% higher than white persons. It will be critical to determine the full extent of this crisis on these communities, and its driving factors, to promote the recovery process and better fortify against future threats.
The recommendations were developed by the commissioners in consultation with Heritage Foundation scholars and leading policy experts. They are part of the commission’s five-phase approach to recovery. Previous recommendations were delivered to the nation’s governors, the Trump administration, members of Congress, local officials, and civil society leaders.
While we cannot prevent events like the novel coronavirus from happening in the future, Americans can prepare for a more balanced approach that better fortifies the United States against future threats.
“Saving lives and livelihoods in the wake of the coronavirus requires policymakers to honestly evaluate what went wrong as we prepare for another wave of the virus and future pandemics,” said Chairman Kay C. James, president of The Heritage Foundation. “While we move to get Americans safely back to work, governments must resist the urge to spend more money and create new programs without even examining what actually works. More now than ever, we know the American spirit of freedom and free enterprise will play a defining role in empowering workers, businesses, health providers, patients, and all Americans to defeat the coronavirus.”
The commission will deliver its final report with an assessment of each state’s coronavirus response and final recommendations for all five phases in June. All of the recommendations are available here.
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