ROANOKE, Va. – Scientists, healthcare professionals, policy experts, business owners, and concerned citizens are calling upon Gov. Ralph Northam to be far stricter to eliminate the coronavirus in Virginia.
The group, organized by EndCoronavirus.org, is asking for the governor to take seven “low-cost, high-impact actions to zero out COVID-19 in Virginia”:
- Empower local governments
- Maximize social distancing
- Require mask usage
- Deploy approaches that have worked elsewhere to scale up testing
- Leverage volunteers to cheaply scale up contact tracing
- Convert unused college dormitories into voluntary isolation facilities
- Implement “safe travel” rules to prevent importation of new cases
Yaneer Bar-Yam led the charge in crafting this plan, after he said Virginians asked for his expertise to find the best way to combat COVID-19.
“It’s the opportunity to go back to normal that everybody wants,” Bar-Yam said. “We’re kind of operating now at kind of the edge of, ‘Is it going to go up? Is it going to be flat? Is it going to go down?’ Why should we do it in that way?”
Bar-Yam said this plan is about stopping the spread altogether instead of just slowing it.
“Rather than kind of doing sort of the least effort that kind of will slow it down, do the most effort and get it to stop and you’re done,” Bar-Yam said.
More than 200 people have signed the letter, explaining those seven points in greater detail.
Among the signers of the letter are faculty members at Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia.
“We have the chance to decrease the suffering and death of so many people,” said Felicia Etzkorn, chemistry professor at Virginia Tech.