Due to the recent nature of Covid-19 (more commonly known as the Coronavirus), the majority of U.S. citizens have been forced into self-quarantine in order to prevent spreading the virus any further. Unfortunately, however, there are many Americans who refuse to isolate themselves, causing more and more residents to fall ill. Their behavior is prolonging our ability to keep the pandemic under control and something needs to be done about it. The U.S. government should consider administering mandatory health screenings to out-of-state travelers, monitoring isolated citizens with GPS technology, and paying residents to stay home so that we can “flatten the curve” once and for all.
While it’s true that certain travel restrictions have already been placed, I think that it’s quite apparent that the policies offer major room for improvement. Take President Trump’s “travel ban” for example. It prohibits non-U.S. citizens who have visited China within the past two weeks from entering America, excluding immediate family. Many have not taken kindly to this restriction, like Ron Klain, a White House Ebola response coordinator under the Obama administration. Klain states that before the ban was established, 300,000 people traveled from China to America in the previous month, making Trump’s policy more like a “band-aid” than a “ban” (Farley). What Trump fails to realize is that restricting travel with other countries isn’t enough. We need to focus on stopping the spread of the virus within the borders of our own country.
The U.S. government can’t stop intranational travel. Many of us have to commute, acquire groceries, pick up medication, and the like. So, if they can’t prevent us from leaving home, then it only makes sense to administer mandatory health screenings to those who do so. Anyone traveling across state lines should be subjected to this testing; not only would it lessen the rate of contamination, but it would also keep the virus contained within a certain perimeter. One may argue that this remedy could be troublesome to the financial well being of our country, as tests for the Coronavirus are roughly thirty-six dollars apiece, which would be a monstrous expenditure with the amount of citizens that would be tested (Herman). A human life, however, is priceless, and I think that it is much better to be safe than sorry.
In addition to more testing, the U.S. government should also monitor the self-quarantined with GPS technology to ensure that they won’t infect others with the virus. What’s convenient about this solution is that it’s already been proven to be dependable! Last month, Hong Kong closed its borders to foreigners to prevent further infection from the virus. Those returning to the country were mandated to stay home for fourteen days and were given an electronic bracelet.
The bracelet is connected to an app called StayHomeSafe, which utilizes a technology known as “geofencing,” where users walk around their homes to calibrate the device. After this is done, the app can detect if the user leaves the premise (Patino).
The application seems to be working just fine for Hong Kong, as the rate of new cases have already slowed. Dennis Normile, a contributing freelancer for Science Magazine, states that “the city reported just thirteen new cases on April 9th, down from sixty-five on March 27th” (Normile). It’s a wonder why the U.S. hasn’t taken advantage of this ingenious technology yet.
Maybe this is because some may find it an invasion of privacy or a violation of our individual freedoms, which is a contradictory thought in and of itself. If your freedoms include putting the lives of your neighbors at risk because you refused to remain in isolation, then you are violating their freedom to live in a safe, uncontaminated environment.
Finally, perhaps offering a monetary incentive is the answer to our problems. Mark Engler and Andrew Elrod, two contributors for the esteemed progressive journal The New Republic, write that “on a routine basis, millions of low-wage workers…must go to work even if they are feeling sick. If they do not, they risk compromising their ability to support their families…” (Elrod and Engler). The two go on to discuss the idea that paying people to stay home might be a great method to avoid spreading the deadly disease. It’s common sense: if the government provides us with some sort of financial safety net, then we have no reason to go to work and risk our lives and the lives of others.
It is true that the U.S. government has already issued stimulus checks to its citizens in an effort to increase spending in the economy, but who’s to say whether or not these checks were sufficient compensation? Many Americans are currently unemployed, and more importantly, without a steady paycheck to help them meet their short-term obligations. What the American people need is an emergency stay-at-home pay that is consistent, reliable, and “provide[s] full replacement wages for those whose livelihoods are undermined by the pandemic,” as Elrod and Engler say (Elrod and Engler).
Sometimes, the answers to our problems lie in unconventional methods. We have seen this with the ideas of out-of-state health screenings, geofencing technology, and stay-at-home pay. Nonetheless, thinking outside the box might just help us bring this lethal illness down.
Watch out, Covid-19!
Elrod, Andrew, and Mark Engler. “The Case for a Social Distancing Wage.” The New Republic,
16 March 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156936/case-social-distancing-wage
Farley, Robert. “The Facts on Trump’s Travel Restrictions.” FactCheck.org, 6 March 2020, https://www.factcheck.org/2020/03/the-facts-on-trumps-travel-restrictions/
Herman, Bob. “Price of the CDC coronavirus test: $36.” Axios, 13 March 2020, https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.axios.com/medicare-price-cdc-coronavirus-test-
Normile, Dennis. “‘Suppress and lift’: Hong Kong and Singapore say they have a coronavirus strategy that works.” Science Magazine, 13 April 2020, https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/04/suppress-and-lift-hong-kong-and-singapore-say-they-have-coronavirus-strategy-works
Patino, Marie. “Why Asian Countries Have Succeeded in Flattening the Curve.” CityLab, 31 March 2020, https://www.citylab.com/life/2020/03/coronavirus-stay-at-home-order-