Third, we have to make sure that our hospitals and health care system are ready for flare-ups of the disease that may occur when economic activity expands again. Reopening the right way will still not be completely safe. Public health officials will need to conduct effective disease surveillance. Hospitals need to have the staff and equipment necessary to handle any local outbreaks, and we need an improved federal system to get help to these places as needed.

Make no mistake: An effective plan to beat the virus is the ultimate answer to how we get our economy back on track. So we should stop thinking of the health and economic responses as separate. They are not.

Once we have taken these steps, we can begin to reopen more businesses and put more people back to work. Things will not go back to “normal” right away. As public health experts have said, we should expect activity to return gradually, with sites like offices and stores reopening before arenas and theaters.