Fortunately, the United States already has a lot of ICU beds relative to its population. Our hospitals love to develop their expensive, intensive capabilities, and we’ve no central regulator who can stop them. Normally, this may be an expensive waste of resources, but right now, it could save a lot of lives.
The United States also has private-lab capacity waiting to be mobilized. And that’s vital, at a time when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration have been tripping over their own feet, as former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb pointed out on Twitter Thursday morning. We are lucky to have a robust private market which can, in cooperation with regulators, scale up to help us identify and isolate carriers, rather than a potential single point of failure.
Finally, Americans have a penchant for self-isolation. This starts at with our individual physical space; we just prefer to stand further from each other than people in many other countries. We don’t like to kiss or hug anyone except close friends and family. Our harassment laws make us leery of touching co-workers.