Now that Congress has authorized roughly $3 trillion in four separate coronavirus relief bills (with a recently approved $3 trillion aid bill likely to wind up in negotiations), it is time to follow the example of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who created by executive order April 5, 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps, a work relief program for millions of young men during the Great Depression.

President Trump should immediately create, by executive order, the Civilian Medical Service Corps, which could provide for 1 million trained medical detectives to give coronavirus tests to every citizen and to monitor the incidence of COVID-19.

This is neither a complex concept nor an impossible federal program to operate without delay. Testing of every citizen is critical for governments to prepare for this unprecedented public health crises which will reoccur this summer and next year.

The Civilian Conservation Corps was one of the most successful of Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. It planted 3 billion trees and constructed trails and shelters in more than 800 parks nationwide during its nine years of existence. It helped to shape the modern national and state park systems we enjoy today.

“Ad Astra per Aspera,” the motto of Kansas, is Latin for “through hardships to the stars,” sourced from Virgil’s “Aeneid.” At this time of national hardship, it is imperative to give hope for the future. The creation of a national Citizen Medical Service Corps would give gainful employment to millions and provide a critically necessary public service with long-term benefits to the nation.

Robert F. Lyons


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