There is no doubt the US was slow to realize the impact of this little virus. But the window of opportunity is still open. If drastic measures are not taken very, very soon then we are likely to see this pandemic extend for months to come. There are 3 fundamental steps that need to be taken to curb this pandemic.

National response: The biggest problem right now is the lack of a national lockdown. To date the federal government has been reticent to get too involved — preferring to let each state mandate its own response. The problem is that people can freely travel across statelines, and with it, spread the virus. As the President has said, we are in a war. And war requires a national response. This is no different. The entire nation needs to be on a Stay at Home order.

Testing: There needs to be availability and encouragement for widespread testing. There are many strategies we can learn and borrow from to beat this virus. South Korea had one of the most aggressive and extensive testing programs of anyone to date. They have also been affected the least of anyone. Tests are becoming available to allow suspected patients to test themselves without infecting a health care provider. These and other tests need to be widely distributed throughout the 50 states and territories.

Vaccine: There currently is no vaccine for COVID-19, and the quickest we can expect one is 18 months. The federal government needs to be setting up laboratories, and funding construction of materials and machines, to develop and test various proposed vaccines. Not all of them will work. The drug companies can help. But they can’t do it alone — not with the investment of capital required to come up with a vaccine quickly.

We all can, and must, do our part to isolate this virus. We also need to demand from our federal government a national response that is coordinated and complete, working in conjunction with states and jurisdictions. What is occurring in New York could have been hugely minimized if state and federal agencies had worked together.