Jeff Bezos outlined our biggest challenge in reopening the US economy: Morning Brief

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Pressure is mounting in the US economy.

5,245 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance last week. In just four weeks, 22 million workers filed for unemployment. “Data-reactid =” 20 “> Another 5,245 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance last week. In just four weeks, 22 million workers filed for unemployment.

released Thursday estimates that 18 million Americans lost their jobs between February 15 and April 4. Data on the unemployed suggest that the losses are even greater. “Data-reactid =” 21 “> A Federal Reserve study released Thursday estimated that 18 million Americans lost their jobs between February 15 and April 4. Job demand data indicates that the losses are even greater.

economic data is deteriorating the drum beat that the US economy needs to reopen has become stronger. The White House on Thursday announced a three-phase plan to reopen the US economy. “Data-reactid =” 22 “> And as the economic data deteriorates, the drumbeat that the US economy needs to reopen has increased. On Thursday, the White House announced three phase plans for the reopening of the US economy.

But the obstacles we face between here and there – between an economy in which only workers deemed essential leave their homes and an economy in which a normal workforce is absent around the world – are numerous.

latest annual letter to shareholders, Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos has diverged from his usual discussion of Amazon’s place in the competitive landscape to speak almost exclusively of the company’s efforts to address the challenges associated with coronaviruses. “Data-reactid =” 24 “> In its last annual letter to shareholders, Amazon (AMZN CEO) Jeff Bezos diverged from his usual discussion on Amazon’s place in the competitive landscape to speak almost exclusively of company efforts to meet the challenges of coronaviruses.

Bezos’ discussion of how Amazon is thinking about the steps necessary to run its workforce on something that looks like a normal schedule describes the magnitude of the challenges facing the economy as a whole. And his comments remind us of how far our national capacity is from being equipped to meet many of these challenges. Especially when it comes to testing.

“A next step in protecting our employees could be regular testing of all Amazonians, including those with no symptoms,” writes Bezos. “Regular global testing across all industries would both help keep people safe and kick-start the economy. For this to work, we, as a company, would need much more testing capacity than what is currently available.

“If everyone could be tested regularly, it would make a huge difference in how we fight this virus. Those who tested positive could be quarantined and treated, and anyone who tested negative could re-enter the economy with confidence. “

Many legislators have released in the past few days and weeks: tests must be widely available, easily accessible not only for those who have access to a doctor’s office or for those with obvious symptoms of COVID-19. Testing for COVID-19 must be a common, widespread, and common part of American life before we can send millions of Americans back to work. “Data-reactid =” 28 “> This is the opinion that many legislators have disseminated in recent days and weeks: the tests must be widely available, not only for those who have access to a doctor’s office or for those who have obvious symptoms of COVID-19. The COVID-19 test must be a common, prevalent and common part of American life before millions of Americans can return to work.

chronicled for weeks now, tests are stable across the country at around 150,000 tests per day. This is at best half of what is required for a “test and trace” program to work, and potentially as little as 20% of the test capacity required for this approach to work. “Data-reactid =” 29 “> But as Bill McBride at Calculated Risk has been reporting for weeks now, tests are stable across the country at around 150,000 tests per day. At best, half of what is required for a “test and trace” program to work, and potentially as little as 20% of the test capacity required for this approach to work.

The percentage of positive tests in the past few weeks has also been stubbornly flat, suggesting that we are still testing too often only those with symptoms of COVID-19. In other words, our collective testing efforts tell us little about the extent of the coronavirus epidemic beyond what we can clearly see.

The pace of COVID testing in the United States and the rate of positive test returns have been stable for weeks, suggesting that we are still far from having an idea of ​​the true extent of this epidemic. (Source: calculated risk)

With no plan from lawmakers, Bezos and the Amazon team have decided to bring their staff’s testing capacity to where it needs to be.

“We have started work on strengthening the incremental testing capacity,” writes Bezos. “A team of Amazonians – from researchers and program managers to purchasing specialists and software engineers – has moved from their daily tasks to a dedicated team to work on this initiative.

“We have started to assemble the equipment we need to build our first laboratory and hope to start testing a small number of our front-line workers soon. We do not know how far we will go within the time limit, but we think it is worth a try and we are ready to share everything we learn. “

When policymakers and economists talk about the private sector “leading the way” in showing how to manage the coronavirus, the Amazon action suite is what they are talking about.

But Amazon’s market capitalization is north of $ 1.1 trillion. Their access to resources is parallel to few companies and exceeds most of the countries on earth. It is not a replicable model for most private companies.

And while Amazon’s approach could be a model for the US government to follow – with its unlimited financial resources – the company’s current program also shows the immense challenge the government faces as it attempts to bring tens of millions of people back to work.

And how long the road is really long.

Myles Udland, reporter and co-presenter of & nbsp;The final round. Follow him on & nbsp;@MylesUdland“Data-reactid =” 62 “>Myles Udland, reporter and co-presenter of The final round. Follow him on @MylesUdland

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