By Wendy Underhill
NCSL has been tracking state actions on the new coronavirus (COVID-19) for a couple of weeks. Now, maybe, it’s time to track legislators' individual actions on it. Here’s a starting place.
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Alaska) called me last night to say that he and a group of Silicon Valley technologists and public health officials have been “crashing” for four days to put up a website, COVID Act Now. This website has very few words on the opening page: mostly just “Public leaders & health officials: The only thing that matters right now is the speed of your response.”
That’s the header. Below that, the map tells the story. Click on your state, and you’ll see projections of the spread of the new virus, with a date when hospital capacity will be exceeded if we continue as is, and with projections based on various interventions. I live in Colorado, and using the current trend, hospitals are projected to be overloaded by April 4—two weeks away.
You’ve seen COVID-19 projections on a curve before—if we do nothing, we have a sooner, higher curve, and if we take intervention measures (such as California’s new shelter-in-place order), we have a later, lower curve. This takes that information and breaks it down by state.
“We want to get this out ASAP to state and local decisionmakers,” Kreiss-Tomkins said last night. He thinks this new tool is intended to shed light on these questions:
- What will the impact be in my region be and when can I expect it?
- How long until my hospital system is under severe pressure?
- What is my menu of interventions, and how will it address the spread of coronavirus?
From one sheltering-in-place person (me) to all of you, I offer this extra thought: please share widely.
Wendy Underhill is the director of elections and redistricting at NCSL.