The Coronavirus has taken the world by storm and not in a good way. The notorious virus is continuously spreading globally. As countries are desperately trying to stop the spread and quarantine their citizens, there seems to be a glimpse of hope for some nations slowly recovering from the virus. While some countries took precautions during the first outbreaks of the virus, America seemed to not catch the hint until it became classified a global pandemic. For the most powerful to not take an outbreak seriously, leaves its nation in a frenzy that only has the government’s lack of guidance to blame. Decisions to not take early action before the virus came to the US blinded America and here’s how it happened.
The Warning Signs
Last December, the Chinese government alerted the World Health Organization of an outbreak of a strain of Coronavirus causing severe illness in its population. Since then, there have been over 167, 000 COVID- 19 cases, and the virus has killed over 6,000 people worldwide. When the first cases of COVID- 19 emerged on US soil several weeks ago, US public health officials were worried the outbreak could be severe. Although the outbreak first appeared in China and was slowly growing in the States, America suppressed this information and acted like COVID- 19 wasn’t a problem that would affect the entire world. While the total number of Coronavirus cases stands at over 300,000, officials have projected the virus could effect millions and kill hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.
After the initial outbreak in China, U.S. health officials warned President Donald Trump of the severity of the threat. Trump seemed unmoved by the information and did not have any concerns about the epidemic. In fact, Trump made a mockery of the disease as a whole and compared the virus to regular influenza. To go further, during several press conferences in February, Trump dismissed Democrat’s concerned about the virus as a “hoax” and propaganda. He claimed this was a new way for them to politicize the epidemic and try to take down the Trump administration. Infectious disease experts begged Americans to self-isolate and cancel social events. However, many Americans reacted nonchalantly about the spread of the virus and mimicked the President’s dismissive tone.
Aside from Trump’s dismissive tone about the virus, America has too failed in administering test kits nationwide as well as not providing the necessary emergency plans to prepare for the pandemic. In the month of February, there were only less than 500 tests provided throughout the entire country. For a country that prides itself on leading the world in healthcare, America is desperately lagging behind countries such as China, Italy, and South Korea who have administered thousands of tests since the outbreaks occurred in their respective countries. Additionally, the Trump administration has ignored the shortages of basic medical supplies such as hospital beds, ventilators, masks, sanitizer, etc. People who work in the medical sector are now turning desperate to make the best of the remaining supply, due to the immense spike in demand for medical supplies caused by COVID-19. As the disease began to spread far quicker than the administration predicted, despite the warnings from health officials, it quickly became known America had nothing in place to combat the disease.
Despite the lack of leadership from the President, local and state officials have tried to come up with solutions to contain the virus. Schools nationwide have shut down and some colleges have shut down indefinitely for the remainder of the school year. The NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA tournaments, and other sporting events have been suspended until further notice. Recently, California called for a lockdown of the state of 40 million residents; while California is the first state to call for a lockdown, it might be safe to say other states are following suit. With over 13,000 cases in the US in such as a short amount of time, government officials are scrambling to come up with a solution and begging for funding to be directed towards implementation of solutions. Although the federal government finally made measures to invoke spending bills, a call for a national emergency, and travel bans to certain places outside of the US, it may be too little too late.
What Should Have Been Done?
Testing is crucial in slowing epidemics and is beneficial for numerous reasons: 1) It lets public health officials identify the sick people and can isolate them from the public to prevent spreading. 2) It can help trace the sick person’s recent contacts to make sure those contacts are isolated as well. 3) It can help find a vaccine to cure the sickness through the research collected with each test. Other countries such as Italy and China, created the playbook on how to handle this pandemic. Italy placed severe travel restrictions and shutdowns early when the virus first appeared in the country. China placed heavy restriction of movement within their borders to try to contain the disease and limit movement to home and to gather food. Other countries vastly followed suit mimicking these models, with America slowly following these models at the final hour.
As a nation that posits itself as having a strong healthcare system and a bustling economy is scrambling in panic because they were ill prepared, despite the continuous alarming warning signs from experts. In fact, by vital metrics such as life expectancy, infant mortality and unmanaged diabetes, the US performs as one of the worst developed countries according to Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development 2019 staistics. The US spends double that of an average wealthy country at $10,600 without better outcomes, mostly due to their extortionate spending on administrative costs.
Although America has made desperate strives to try to contain the virus, the damage has already been done. The citizens are panicking, the markets are plunging, and the disease is spreading. The measures that are now being taken is an attempt to play catch up with the rest of the world. If America would have taken the outbreak seriously in the beginning, they would have been better prepared to handle the pandemic and how it will grow. With the Senate still in deadlock over the COVID-19 stimulus package on offer, we must find ways to put pandemic before partisanship.