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The reality of countries with adequate testing and responsible leadership

Last week, I spoke with a friend whose COVID-19 experience should serve as an illustration of the way things could be if we had competent leadership.

Just as the outbreak severely hit France, she flew from her home in Madagascar to Paris to see a family member who was giving birth. Upon arrival, her plane was turned away, and sent back to Madagascar. There, she was promptly quarantined for 14 days – as recommended for anyone coming back from a COVID-19 hotspot. During that time, she was given four tests (that's right, four) for the virus – all of which came back negative and she remained safe from contaminating those around her.

That's what a responsible approach to COVID-19 looks like: nations recognizing that we're all in this together, respecting the experts in the World Health Organization, and meeting their commitments to their citizens and to the rest of the world.

Last week, Donald Trump suggested that we need to defund the World Health Organization after criticism of America's response to COVID-19. Trump's sheer incompetence has been on full display for months. He did nothing when our country should have been ramping up testing. Any proposal to defund the very people we should have been listening to in the first place is dangerous and shameful.

Instead of eliminating funding, we should continue to work with the World Health Organization, take their advice on the importance of testing, and expand our capacity to do so. We're facing serious challenges in the United States, and it won't get easier until we can accurately test the highest priority groups. People must maintain social distancing if they have come in contact with the virus. But in order to reopen our society, advice from health experts points toward more robust testing. To do anything less and attempt to resume life as we know it without increased testing capability would be not only irresponsible, it would be dangerous.

The Trump administration's COVID-19 response has been inadequate, to say the least – while other countries work together to contain the virus, Donald Trump has actually been making it more difficult for states to cooperate, urging governors to go it alone.

We need to listen to the experts, give our courageous health care professionals more Personal Protective Equipment, expand testing, and work together across state lines and national borders in order to beat this pandemic. I'm going to continue to fight for the health and safety of Oregonians – despite the lack of leadership in the White House.



Posted on April 13, 2020.