This pandemic that’s shut down major parts of society and the economy, kept kids out of school and put many people out of work has a certain fend-for-yourself quality to it. Being resourceful is essential. So is building networks of support among family members, friends and occasional neighbor you let inside your contact “bubble.”
We’ve done it in our neighborhoods and on our blocks, and we’ve seen it on a broader scale. Recall the pictures of Robert Kraft’s New England Patriots 767 arriving at Logan Airport in a late-March rain storm, delivering a million N95 respirator masks desperately needed by Massachusetts hospitals and healthcare workers. Gov. Charlie Baker arranged for the shipment from Chinese suppliers. Kraft sent a jet to pick it up, just as he later sent a Patriots semi-trailer to haul 300,000 masks to hospitals in New York City.
This week brings yet another example of broad-scale cooperation. Answering the need for widespread COVID-19 screening — especially as schools plan to reopen, even on a limited basis — a half-dozen governors got together to plan an order of 3 million antigen tests. The group, which includes Baker, is talking with two suppliers cleared by the federal government to make tests that yield results in 15 to 20 minutes.
A bulk order hopefully spurs the companies to ramp up production, explained a release by the Rockefeller Foundation, which is taking care of financial logistics. The deal should save money for the states. Those involved are Ohio, Michigan, Louisiana, Virginia and Maryland. Of six governors involved, three are Republicans, and the others are Democrats.
“Increasing both testing capacity and access to testing is a critical part of stopping the spread of COVID-19,” Baker said in a statement. And it’s especially timely as COVID-19 case numbers start ticking back up in Massachusetts.
What these states are doing, some might argue, should’ve been coordinated by the federal government. The Washington Post notes that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who put the deal together as chairman of the National Governors Association, has criticized the White House for leaving it to states to arrange for testing supplies.
Be that as it may, the deal announced this week is a bright spot in a constant drip of bad news about the coronavirus. It is also a remarkable example of the good that comes from working across party lines, across state borders and across bureaucracies to deal with this global crisis.