To Bill Gates: Please Lead a Coronavirus Action Team with Governors!

An open letter to Bill Gates

Bill Gates. CC-BY image from, cropped.

Your advice in Tuesday’s Washington Post article[1], was excellent, but falls short in one very important regard: it fails to address the national leadership void we face on COVID-19, which is continuing to dramatically impact our national outcome.

It is not enough to lament that “demand for tests will probably exceed the supply for some time”. The president needs to invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) now to immediately accelerate testing capacity and production of all needed healthcare supplies, including 100s of millions of masks for citizens — not only ventilators. This would enable proactive mass testing — to get ahead of the curve — and reduce the transmission rate when citizens interact in grocery stores and other enclosed public spaces. This point should have been stated and forcefully driven home. The whole purpose of the DPA is to help address national emergencies!

Furthermore, there are many other important policy and other actions that our leadership could take[2], that would help against this disaster, but you did not mention, presumably because your focus has been on the technical challenge. You could mitigate this blind spot by teaming up with some governors.

Please consider leading a Coronavirus Action Team[3], with 3-5 governors, to quickly devise and implement effective nationwide action plans, since the federal government has been too slow and ineffective, and thousands of Americans will die unnecessarily as a result.

Please join with a few governors, both: (a) to be more aware of the levers of influence that are available — both federal and state; and (b) to build a critical mass COVID-19 leadership team that the nation sorely needs. We are already facing thousands of unnecessary deaths, because of the disastrous federal leadership void. Please help us avoid more.


  1. Bill Gates: Here’s how to make up for lost time on covid-19, Washington Post, 31-Mar-2020
  2. An Action Plan for the Coronavirus Disaster, Bow, Don’t Shake! blog post, 29-Mar-2020
  3. Stopping COVID-19: Who will fill the leadership void?, Bow, Don’t Shake! blog post, 24-Mar-2020

By David Booth, PhD

David Booth is a computer scientist and software architect working on healthcare and biomedical data, with a focus on improving data interoperability.

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