As governments around the world begin to ease their lockdowns – and as new infections are inevitable – they will have another chance to get their answers right.
Without a vaccine in view, what governments need to do to lift lockdowns tests, tracks and quarantines, according to WHO spokeswoman Dr. Margaret Harris.
"We need to know where the virus is, and then to separate the sick from the healthy – that's why you need testing. You have to check that people who have symptoms actually have the virus, and then find people they have been in contact with and isolate them," she told CNN.
"If you can't do that, go back to square one."
US misses benchmark testing (but also UK)
The way some leaders talk about the level of testing can be confusing. President Trump had claimed that the United States had conducted most of the tests in the world, and while it may vote, per capita, it is not leading.
While it is useful to look at how far a country tests per capita, WHO says it is a better measure to measure whether a country is testing adequately. Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO health care programs, said recently that a good goal is to have at least 10 negative cases for every positive case confirmed. This means that if a state or country performs testing and returns with positive cases of around 9% or less, it is likely to test well.
The US has a positive result rate of 18.8%, according to COVID Tracking Project figures cited by JHU.
So high prices suggest that a country only tests the worst cases, usually people who are seriously ill and in hospitals, Harris said.
It's the same picture in some US states. Georgia has conducted around 101,000 tests, with a positive result rate of 21.6%, even further from WHO's scale.
Elsewhere, several European countries also lag far behind when testing and will need to catch up to safely restore their communities.
The UK stands out, with just over 610,000 tests done and a positive case rate of 23.4%, worse than Georgia.
The difference is that the British government has expanded its social restrictions. But it looks at when and how to lift the lock.
France and Sweden also perform tests under WHO's scale.
Germany lifts the lock with caution
Germany makes a good case for comparison with the US. It too has begun to ease the lockdown, and it also leaves much of the decision to the individual states. Still, the approach is far stricter than what we see in Georgia, and the states of Germany show a uniform sense of caution.
At the end of last week, RKI reported that Germany had tested more than 2 million people and has a positive result rate of 7.5%, well above the WHO scale.
Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel released a list of steps the country would take to begin lifting the lock, and on Monday, stores up to 800 square feet began to reopen as long as they have hygiene and social distance measures in place.
Bookstores, car dealers and bike shops can now also open again no matter the size. Restaurants, bars and gyms will remain closed.
Merkel also announced that the country would increase its tracking efforts and deploy a team of five officers for every 20,000 people in the population to track people who may have come into contact with the recently confirmed case.
But Merkel has repeatedly warned that the situation could quickly turn around if people do not adhere to social distance measures, which are still in place.
On Thursday, Chancellor warned Germany was on "the thinnest ice" after many people flocked to shopping areas and pedestrian areas this week, prompting German virologists to warn of complacency. While Merkel supports the reopening decisions made by the federal government and the states, "their implementation worries me … they appear to be very bold, perhaps too bold," she said.
Germany considered only reopening because the reproduction rate – the average number of people infected by each person – had fallen below 1 to 0.7. According to WHO, keeping this frequency below 1 means the virus can subside and eventually die out. On Friday, however, German authorities reported that the rate had gone up to 0.9.
Trump is at odds with the White House
The message in the US has been less coordinated and clear.
Trump has also supported protesters who rally against home-home measures that they say violate their rights.
"Our next measured step is data driven and led by state public health officials. We will continue with this approach to protect lives – and livelihoods – for all Georgians," he wrote.
In separate posts, he also said that the state dramatically increased test capacity.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Thursday that if he advised Kemp, he would tell him "not just turn the switch and go."
"Because there is a danger of a setback. And I know there is a desire to move forward quickly. It is a natural human desire. But to go ahead and jump in phases where you should not be, I would recommend him as a health professional and as a doctor for not doing it, "said Fauci, who is part of the White House & # 39; coronavirus task force.
There is plenty of opposition to Kemp's plan in Georgia as well, and many store owners there said they would not open again on Friday.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, told CNN in an interview that she was "confused that we have opened up this way."
"I don't know how to get a haircut and keep a safe distance from someone who cuts your bangs, it just doesn't make sense to me," she said.
All data in this story was accurate at ET April 24, 2020.
CNN's Nadine Schmidt reported from Berlin. Stephanie Halasz, Arman Azad and Benjamin Berteau contributed to this report.