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commentary

(Domestic Preparedness Journal)

Inventions Birthed by Necessity of Coronavirus

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by Daniel M. Gerstein

April 20, 2020

If necessity is the mother of invention, the new coronavirus is quickly birthing a lot of innovations. Parts of U.S. society may be forever changed by this pandemic. As of April 13, 2020, the United States had over 550,000 confirmed cases and nearly 22,000 deaths, with emergency preparedness and response agencies preparing for much more to come. Combinations of social distancing, home quarantine, closure of schools and universities, and case isolation are now being extensively practiced. Creativity is being implemented each day to overcome response barriers to those at work and meet the needs of those asked to stay at home.

Although it is unclear how long current social distancing, quarantine, closure, and isolation measures will be required, most experts agree it will be months, if not longer. Laboratories around the world are working on developing a vaccine. However, mass production of vaccines and antivirals typically take 12-18 months. Limits on in-person interactions require new approaches to keep society functioning and the economy running. Companies have been quick to create workarounds to keep people virtually connected in a physically disconnected environment.…

The remainder of this commentary is available at domesticpreparedness.com.


Daniel M. Gerstein is a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. He formerly served as the undersecretary (acting) and deputy undersecretary in the Science and Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security from 2011-2014. Gerstein's latest book, The Story of Technology: How We Got Here and What the Future Holds, was published in October 2019.

This commentary originally appeared on Domestic Preparedness Journal on April 15, 2020. Commentary gives RAND researchers a platform to convey insights based on their professional expertise and often on their peer-reviewed research and analysis.