RELEASE: CAP Unveils New Plan To Contain COVID-19 Amid the Virus’s ‘Extraordinarily Widespread’ Transmission

Washington, D.C. — On Sunday, Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, said in an interview that the United States is facing “extraordinarily widespread” transmission of new COVID-19 cases in both rural and urban communities. Today, the Center for American Progress is releasing a new, evidence-backed plan to contain the spread of COVID-19 based on what is and is not working in practice in the United States and Japan—an Asian country with similar limits on what the government can and cannot do nationally to contain the virus. While a partially open strategy such as the one the authors describe can lower the virus’s transmission, ultimately, local stay-at-home orders may be needed to create the conditions under which such a plan can succeed.

The piece traces various state policy and nonpolicy factors that have contributed to or slowed community spread of the coronavirus across the United States, including the duration of initial stay-at-home orders; bar and indoor dining reopenings; the adoption, timing, and politicization of mask mandates; the success or failure of state testing and contact-tracing efforts; and other cultural factors.

In using this real-world evidence, the authors recommend the following to drive down incidence levels:

  • Closing indoor dining and bars, with the federal government providing these establishments critical financial support to cover fixed costs and keep workers employed
  • Monitoring and imposing greater restrictions on potentially high-risk venues such as gyms and places of worship where people generate higher levels of droplets and aerosols
  • Implementing mask mandates, publicizing the rules, and ensuring that all residents—especially lower-income individuals—have access to masks at no cost to them
  • Adopting cluster-based contact tracing

“Given the rapid spread of the virus across the United States, it’s critical that states and the federal government learn from what we know works in practice. Adopting this evidence-backed plan would drive COVID-19 incidence levels back down to a level where testing and tracing are effective, while also helping save lives, invigorating our economy, and putting schools on a pathway to reopening,” said Emily Gee, health economist at CAP.

Please click here to read: “A New Strategy To Contain the Coronavirus: Lessons From the U.S. Northeast and Japan

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Colin Seeberger at or 202.741.6292.