Fitting all these moving parts together into a workable test-and-trace system is the kind of coordination problem that an energetic White House could solve. It’s certainly not a task beyond the capability of other Western governments. Germany, with a robust test-trace-and-isolate regime in place, has already re-opened, having avoided the type of outbreaks seen in Italy, Spain, and France. The United Kingdom has begun its pilot test-and-trace program in the Isle of Wight. Why is the U.S. so far behind?
Our nation has the capacity and resources to accomplish what has been accomplished in East Asia and what is beginning to be accomplished in Europe. All the pieces of the system needed to do so are being developed. They may begin to be assembled through private efforts alone. But assembling them with speed and with a straight line of communication to the public would require real leadership from a White House willing and able to solve coordination problems and blend the efforts of private actors, states, and municipalities into a coherent national plan.
Unfortunately, this is not that White House. In its outward-facing communications, the Trump administration has continued to tout the supposed effectiveness of its response. But up to now, the American people have faced down this pandemic on their own, while their president attempts to market his way out of another crisis.