The stress on our health-care system is not yet calculable, but we should prepare for the worst. As a condition for receiving emergency aid, every governor should be directed by the president to submit plans this week to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to take over facilities for use as supplemental hospitals in case the need for our approximately 924,000 hospital beds nationwide exceeds capacity in any state.
Federal Emergency Management Agency funds, available through the national emergency declaration, should be used to purchase ventilators, masks, hospital beds and other medical supplies to address the coming crisis. None of this will be wasted; they can and should be stored for any future crisis.
The president should also direct governors to prohibit attendance at public facilities, including restaurants and bars, until at least May 11, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Exceptions should be made for supermarkets and pharmacies. Public gatherings pose the biggest threat for community spread. There are still too many Americans going out to restaurants, bars and other public areas as if this is business as usual. It is not. Every public gathering adds to the risk, at least for the next month.