How the Private Sector Can Get Us Back to Work Amidst the Pandemic
As we head into fall, many Americans are still uncertain about COVID-19 risks around the country—especially, for some, the risks that come with a return to school, although schools across the country have provided both virtual and in-person learning options. The US has led the world in COVID-19 cases and resulting deaths in the last few months, due in part to a lackluster state and federal response to the virus. The key to getting back to work lies in the private sector.
The U.S. Government’s Response to COVID-19
In a time where the federal government should be providing direction, it instead lacked leadership and provided a poorly organized response to the pandemic. Even in March, it was clear that the government’s response featured failures of judgement and inaction that inevitably cost the lives of Americans. Though the federal government certainly can’t be expected to do everything to protect us, it should provide guidance to states, local governments and private businesses. As pandemic responses have largely been left up to state governments, the country has seen waves of cases regionally—first, raging on the East Coast and throughout the midwest; now flaring up on the West Coast and in the South.
Additionally, a lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) left frontline workers vulnerable to the virus. Without supplies from the federal government, states were left bidding against each other for PPE and other medical supplies. With the federal government and state governments buying from the same supply chain, resources ran out quickly. This is where the private sector came in—when President Trump enacted the Defense Production Act, private market manufacturers were compelled to ramp up production of PPE. This act is a great example of enabling the private sector to both thrive and help the nation overcome this pandemic. At the start of the pandemic, the federal government’s regulation of testing left out the private sector, an important asset that has led to innovative solutions and an increase in testing in recent months.
The Benefits of the Private Sector During COVID-19
In addition to providing another helping hand in a dire situation, local businesses know their communities best. Providing funding and resources to the private sector enables them to identify the local risk level and needs of residents in their region. Supporting the private sector also creates and keeps jobs—something that’s so critical in a time of historic unemployment.
Investing in the private sector also encourages an all-hands-on-deck mentality, where diverse groups of employees can tap into their innovation and creativity to contribute to solutions. The private sector can do a more efficient job in monitoring virus spread and helping Americans evaluate risk—with the help of a federal government that provides infrastructure and the funds needed to succeed.
Gerald Commissiong, CEO of Todos Medical, a company focused on COVID-19 screening and diagnosis, commented “By taking the federal government out of the equation and leaving testing up to the private sector, we can perform a much more efficient job by removing politics and sticking to what really matters; science and business. America is founded on capitalism, so why not revert to what we do best? Adapt and overcome obstacles through innovation, not from the elected officials, but from industry professionals who have dedicated their careers to studying disease testing and control.”
Getting Americans Back to Work
Returning to the office and bringing back jobs that were lost as the pandemic shut down the country is reliant on our government’s support of the private sector. With the ability to ramp up testing, provide crucial PPE equipment and conduct research that could lead to a vaccine, the private sector is in a position to lead the US response to the virus. Even as employers bring employees back into an office setting, the private sector can provide the tools to make it a smooth transition—thermometers, masks, and cleaning supplies, all of which will be necessary to keep offices and schools safe.
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