NELSON: Thankfully Americans Have Public-Private Partnerships During The Coronavirus Outbreak

Font Size:

With the current COVID-19 health crisis, it’s easy to look at the looming clouds and worry. But during times like these, I’m emboldened by our system that enables public-private partnerships to step up and develop solutions for everyone in this great country. You should be too, and it’s what ALEC focuses on every day.

This isn’t only an all government response. It’s an all-American response.

Typically, the public sector and private sector work separately. Each offers a different approach to problem solving. The private sector’s hallmark is efficiency, innovation and value creation, while the public sector’s focus is equality, justice and common defense. When society – our country, state and individual communities – come under attack like we did during WWII, the strategy must include all six. A single approach won’t cut it. Thankfully, we’re seeing public-private partnerships respond to COVID-19.

This isn’t new. Look at the production of military vehicles during WWII. When President Roosevelt held a fireside chat and said America would be “the great arsenal of democracy,” the country’s military ranked 19th in the world – behind Portugal. But those words willed thoughts into reality because of public-private partnerships.

The country turned to General Motors, Ford and Chrysler to build airplanes, tanks and other military supplies. The public sector couldn’t have succeeded alone. Chrysler’s efficiencies reduced production time of anti-aircraft guns from 450 hours down to just to 10. Saving time meant more time to produce other crucial military and medical supplies.

There’s a reason why you’re hearing so many wartime analogies right now. Fighting a world war is the same as fighting a global pandemic. It takes everyone, working together linked in a common cause, to combat COVID-19.

The private sector is being called on by the public sector once again. Businesses ranging from the medical equipment industry to cosmetics manufacturers are being called into play.

Let’s take COVID-19 testing as an example. Should you be tested?

Before even being tested you’re in a better situation: The FDA fast-tracked the approval of brand-new COVID-19 tests developed by companies like Roche, LabCorp and many others. Their applications were moved to the front of the line and they’ll be coming to your communities very soon.

And as coverage expands, Google’s sister company Project Verily offers an online solution: a simple form. Fill it out and the website says if you should get tested. If you should be, the website sets up your test at the nearest testing site.

The rapid deployment of in-car testing sites is ready thanks to the private sector. Countless businesses like Walmart, Walgreens, Target, CVS and others have stepped up: parts of their parking lots will serve as drive-thru testing facilities. The website directs you to one of these locations.

If you need a health consultation — and in order to reduce the burden on potentially strained health care systems — the federal government has removed restrictions on telehealth providers and also allowed Medicare to cover these services.

Doctors licensed in one state are now allowed to practice in another state. Hospitals can go beyond their 25-bed treatment limit. Regulations that hinder a hospital’s ability to get more staff or get more space for treatment are being removed.

And we’re seeing the private sector step up in ways many of us hadn’t considered: the U.S. Department of Agriculture has partnered with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, and vital supply chain and logistics companies McLane Global and PepsiCo are poised to deliver more than 1 million shelf stable meals per week to at-risk, rural youth while they’re out of school. They have the trucks and logistical ability to make it happen.

From test production to community organizing, from test facilities to hospital efficiency, we’re seeing one of the greatest examples of a public-private partnership unfold before us. Remember that. Although we are in a state of market volatility, it is a time for consumer confidence. This display of successful public-private partnership should give investors and the American people a lasting sense of security.

Lisa B. Nelson is the chief executive officer of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the country’s largest and oldest membership organization of state legislators, who are dedicated to individual liberty and free enterprise. Follow her on twitter @LisabNelson.