Each day that passes without such a national strategy, the experts say, will raise the ultimate U.S. death toll from COVID-19, the disease associated with the virus. Right now, there aren’t enough tests and gear as states compete with one another to buy them on the open market. And there is very little ability to trace who has the virus and where it is spreading.

“This is a problem that we should be dealing with over the entire nation,” said William Haseltine, a biologist famed for his work on HIV and AIDS. “This is a national problem — it needs a national response.”

Without such a national plan of action carried out on a scale akin to the country’s mobilization during World War II, the experts say, some hospitals will continue to suffer shortages and the U.S. will lack the data needed to have a clear picture of where COVID-19 has spread, making it much harder to get the virus under control.