Businesses and governments are scrambling to solve two major problems right now: how to keep people safe and how to get the economy moving again.
Weeks ago, Nobel Laureate Economist and New York University Professor Paul Romer was the first to voice what he saw as an urgent and viable solution to the global COVID-19 crisis: mass testing NOW, not later.
Since then, Professor Romer’s message has gone mainstream, and his voice is getting louder.
In an April 14th interview with The New York Times, Romer reinforced his point that getting people safely back to work sooner will avert what will be a devastating alternative. His plan calls for a widespread system of regular testing and reintegration at each business location, a solution Romer sees as possible and unavoidable. That message followed his earlier New York Times op-ed which warned of an economy that is sure to die of Coronavirus if the current strategy continues.
“I’ve been focused on a single idea my whole career, that just because something is unfamiliar doesn’t mean it’s impossible,” Romer told the New York Times. “Building interstate highways, scanning every book, going to the moon — these were all outrageous ideas at one time. But if we put enough resources and our minds behind it, we are able to make the impossible possible.”
A Plan for the Future
In partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, Romer has just published a white paper outlining a national strategy for re-opening the American economy. His reputation for pointing businesses and economies in the right direction has prompted policy makers – including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo – to tap into his expertise.
Romer sees how decades of “get government out of the way” thinking has led to this crisis and he is a strong advocate for reexamining that trajectory.
“To make progress,” he says, “a society must have both innovation and regulation.”
Fully aware of the hurdles, Romer remains optimistic about the future – as long as businesses get on board and rally for daily testing now, not later.