Editorial: It’s been two years of COVID. It is time for a full assessment of our response


There is no good way to mark the exact moment the pandemic started in the US the first domestic case of COVID-19 was confirmed? Was it the day the US Secretary of Health and Human Services declared SARS-CoV-2 a public health emergency? Or was it when the first death from COVID was reported on US soil?

The best marker might be the day when then-President Trump declared a national emergency – March 13, 2020. It was a Friday, the end of a scary week of news about the alarming spread of the new and deadly coronavirus, and the announcement triggered a cascade of coast-to-coast actions aimed at “flattening the curve.” “. Six days later, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the first statewide stay-at-home order.

We wish the second anniversary of this momentous day in US history to be a cause for celebration. Although many restrictions have ended, the pandemic is not over yet. Tens of thousands of new cases are being reported every day, and more than 30,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with severe cases of COVID-19. Almost 1 million people in this country have died from COVID-19, and more than a thousand continue to die every day. Millions of Americans struggle with the long-term effects of infection.

Nevertheless, the recent acute phase of the pandemic appears to be abating. The transmission rate is falling and state and federal officials have responded accordingly drawn their attention to plan for the long term. This is crucial as scientists expect COVID-19 will be with us indefinitely.

At this point, the health authorities check whether the disease is present move towards At an endemic stage, it is appropriate to look back at the state and federal response. Not as a blame game—there’s been enough of that to fill a book in the last two years—but a comprehensive, clear-eyed investigation similar to that conducted by the 9/11 Commission.

Many elected officials complained during the chaotic months of the first year of the pandemic that there was no playbook to follow. You were right. The last viral pandemic of the same magnitude as COVID-19 happened more than 100 years earlier, at a time when records and disease reporting were patchy, and decades before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were founded. But we cannot count on being safe from another major global virus outbreak until 2122. We owe it to our future selves and our children to do whatever it takes to help them survive the next pandemic.

Nobody wants to admit mistakes, but looking back requires an honest inventory of America’s failures and successes. Fortunately, there is bipartisan support for such an endeavor as part of the Pandemic PREVENT Law introduced in January by Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Richard Burr (RN.C.). Among other things, the bill would create a 12-person task force modeled on the 9/11 Commission that would investigate both the origins of the virus and federal and state responses.

That’s good, but the task force needs to do more than assess testing and tracing capabilities, supply chains, travel bans and vaccine development. It must seek to address the pandemic’s most galling failure: the injustice of the impact. In every aspect — economic loss, illness, and death — low-income and communities of color have been hit harder by the pandemic than others. While it is important to shore up the national stockpile of critical medical supplies, we also need to examine the holes in the social safety net exposed by COVID-19.

California should conduct a similar introspection of its pandemic response, if not with a task force then at least in the halls of power. In many ways, the state outperformed others, but state and local governments had their own problems: with technology, with data collection, and with communications. We can do better next time if our leaders are brave enough now to commit to full accountability for their pandemic performance. Editorial: It’s been two years of COVID. It is time for a full assessment of our response

Caroline Bleakley

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