The United States is unprepared to fight the COVID-19 pandemic


Courtesy of Doug Mills/ The New York Times

Donald trump talks to the media about the US response to COVID-19

After watching China as well as other countries become powerless due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the United States simply just stood by and watched. Now, the country is in a frenzy, as flights are cancelled, schools are closed, and many restaurants are operating on a take-out only method.
Simply put, our country was not ready for the destruction and fear this virus would cause. We have become a paralyzed nation, unfit to fight against an enemy that we do not truly know enough about. Initially, our hands were tied by Federal Government red tape, as we were unable to get our testing kits early on when the virus first broke out.
President Donald Trump contributed to the apocalyptic-seeming world we now know as reality as he did not think of the virus as a dire situation and therefore did not believe it was a true concern for the U.S. At first, Trump dismissed the first U.S. cases and claimed they would be under control. Despite this, days later he corrected himself by stating in an announcement that he had known all along that a pandemic was on the way. As our President watched the stock market drop and a nation of people overcome with fear, he suddenly started to react and ease up on the testing requirement guidelines.
There has been much talk in the media, explaining that in the past five years the government had considerable knowledge about the risks and severity of a future pandemic. Trump seems to now be scrambling to address such information and claims. According to the New York Times, Trump stated that “Nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion. Nobody has ever seen anything like this before.”
When Barack Obama was president, he and his administration set up an office responsible for managing pandemics and global health threats. Two years ago, Trump disbanded this office, most likely assuming that it lacked importance.
As a nation, we’re not ruling out diagnostic testing, but we simply do not have enough tests. Therefore, we don’t know how many people in the country have the virus. Also, we do not have enough hospital beds or ventilators for this type of respiratory virus. We were far behind the curve, and our lack of preparedness has led to an immobilized country.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the NIH (National Institute of Health), is also the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases. The New York Times explained how Fauci somewhat predicted the outbreak, as “reports of unexplained pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China, set off alarms in his head.”
Fauci also added that “Even before we knew it was a coronavirus, I said it certainly sounds like a coronavirus-SARS type thing.”
The coronavirus has revealed several flaws in the U.S.’s health care system, as many facilities are not prepared for a pandemic.
A survey issued in 2008 proved that more than half of nursing homes in the country lacked a plan to deal with a pandemic, as only about half of the homes have stockpiled supplies such as gloves, surgical masks, and antiviral medications.
Similarly, according to experts, there are only about 200,000 ventilation machines in U.S. medical facilities. In the event of a severe pandemic, such as the 1918 flu, more than 740,000 people would require ventilators for breathing.
The coronavirus should force facilities all over the country to organize better methods of planning for severe pandemics, as this will definitely not be our last one.
In March 2015, Bill Gates spoke at a TED conference about why the U.S. is not ready for the next epidemic. He described the errors our government made with viruses such as Ebola. Watching this back in 2015, viewers most likely thought that an epidemic was years and years away and should not be a first thought.
In the video, Gates states “If we start now we can be ready for the next epidemic.”
This purposes a series of questions. If we had started earlier would we have been ready? If we stocked up on ventilators and masks would the extremity of the virus be less? Would people in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, or the United States be in lockdown for weeks?
Questions such as these will forever be unable to be answered, as the country now must suffer from its lack of preparedness.
Today, we still live in fear as the disease is constantly spreading and the end of this nightmare is unknown.
“We need everyone to understand that they can infect someone or someone can infect you,” Anthony Fauci said.