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An Open Letter to President Trump: Now is the Time for Bold Action to Safely Restore America’s Economic Greatness

White House with storm clouds gathering over it

My prayer is that this letter will help to create a breakthrough moment for you, and inspire you to act safely, but boldly, in defense of our great nation.

Sending Americans back to work without first ensuring their safety will result in countless more deaths and a continuation of the current economic disaster.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES, April 13, 2020 / -- Dear Mr. President –

I am not among those who have criticized your actions to combat this pandemic. Clearly, to any honest observer, they have saved many lives. But sending Americans back to work without first ensuring their safety will result in countless more deaths and a continuation of the current economic disaster.

I cringed when you said at your April 9 briefing that there will be no mass-testing because there is no need. You must reconsider your decision for the good of the nation and for the sake of your presidency.

You have some of the best infectious disease specialists and expert advisors in the world. Through my career in the health sciences – including serving as the FDA’s principal deputy commissioner under President Reagan – I can attest to their well-deserved reputations.

Now is the time to listen to those experts.

Returning Americans to work will require us to identify through massive testing the millions of American workers who are, at least temporarily, immune to the novel coronavirus.

Months ago, my plan would have been impossible. But, such technology now exists and is ready to launch. After just a two-week Phase I of a testing program, millions of American workers could begin going back to work, safely.

I personally know of three companies that, if soon they receive adequate funding for further development, manufacturing, and distribution, and robust regulatory support, can very quickly help us accomplish the goal of having a large-scale at-home-test.

Many of the previously infected were likely asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. This is by far the most valuable group to identify first. They are worth their weight in gold. They are like first responders who are immune to fire.

Second, we must find those workers who have never been infected. There might be as many as three-quarters of American workers who fall into this group.

Third, find the workers who currently are infected. Quarantine them at home, if they are healthy enough, or in a healthcare facility, depending on their need. The good news is that soon they, too, should become immune and immediately able to return to work, safely.

The currently infected workers who are asymptomatic or only mildly symptomatic are our biggest concern. Each invisible carrier can infect dozens, possibly hundreds, of others. Far too few tests have been conducted for us to know with any degree of certainty.

If we reopen the economy now, without sending in only the immune workers and only to the current or former geographic viral hotspots, first, we will lose a great opportunity for a free victory.

If you do not undertake the precautions I recommend, and things fall apart, it is you, Mr. President, who will be inexhaustibly blamed, not just by your critics, but also by your most avid supporters.

The key to rolling out a massive testing program is a fully at-home blood test, of the kind now used by millions of diabetics. These are low-cost, high-quality tests that can be performed, start-to-finish, at home. Current testing almost always requires a difficult, dangerous (to the tester), and very uncomfortable (to the testee) nasal or throat swab that must then be sent to a lab for results. The process can take several days.

With the finger-prick-style blood test, the sampling and processing are performed at home or work, with no waiting, travel time, pain or danger to the tester, or exorbitant costs.


Under this plan, much of the economy, first that geographically located in the hotspots, could be up and running again. The rollout could go as follows:

Phase I. Two weeks, or less. Massive testing will target all former workers from current or past “geographic hotspots.” It will only take three tests per worker (one every other day), to confirm them as immune. Immune workers may safely return to work in any size businesses. Because they are immune, there is no need yet to make their employer’s workspace virus-free.

Phase II. Two months, or less. Confirmed non-immune healthy workers from smaller businesses will be reemployed. Regular testing, both at-home AND at-work, as well as regular and rigorous disinfection, will ensure that both the workplace and workers’ homes remain virus-free. In Phase II, testing will be expanded to include not just the workers, but also other residents in their homes. Workers should spend at least 90% of their day in a virus-free sanctuary, and thereby, keep the workers and their families, as well as their coworkers and their families, safe from infection.

Phase III. Three added months, or less. Confirmed to be immune workers AND non-immune healthy workers from any size businesses in any location will be reemployed.

In sum, over just slightly more than five months, many tens of millions of American workers will safely be brought back to work. Normal levels of employment will be achieved five months post-viral peak, which now is expected on April 20. When the green light is given by you, Mr. President, American workers and testing companies are ready to respond. The sooner we are asked by you, we assure you, the sooner the job will get done.

For a more detailed version of this plan, read “How to Get Americans Back to Work Safely and Quickly.”

This is the fourth article I have published on this topic. I have written them in the hopes that one or more might reach your desk. My love of country and support of your bravery in the face of one of the most difficult wars America has ever fought, has compelled me to do so.

My prayer is that this letter will help to create a breakthrough moment for you, and inspire you to act safely, but boldly, in defense of our great nation, its great people, and its great economy.


John Norris

The Hon. John Norris is an FDA Former Principal Deputy Commissioner, a Massachusetts Former Chairman of the Clinical Laboratory Regulation Reform Commission, and Chairman of FDTH Regulatory Affairs. He can be reached at

John Norris
FDTH Regulatory Affairs Strategies
+1 6176803127
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