Should America be doing more?

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Label’s Head of Social Media, Leah Langley, speaks about the impact of Covid-19 in the United States and the [lack of]action they have taken to stop the spread of the virus. 

The United States has become the global epicentre of the Coronavirus pandemic. The death toll surpassed 5000 on Wednesday April 1st and confirmed cases passed 216,000. It is the first country in the world to record more than 1,000 deaths in a day with the increase of 1,047 being the single highest reported increase from anywhere in the world. The state of New York continues to be the hardest hit with the death toll rising to 2,219. At the same time, Connecticut recorded the youngest victim worldwide with the passing of a 6-week-old baby. With the peak of the outbreak still estimated to be weeks, or even months, away are America doing enough to protect themselves, and just how did they get here?

There has been an ongoing issue with medical supply shortages throughout the country as key workers have struggled to gain access to masks, gloves, gowns, and ventilators. The lack of adequate equipment has seen several Health Care Workers having to reuse gear or create their own makeshift protection. The shortage of ventilators could soon see the United States having to perform medical triages in which they decide who receives the available life-sustaining support and who doesn’t. The pandemic has led to the prices of equipment soaring and for this reason, making it even harder for it to be obtained. Jeffrey Levi (Professor of Health Policy and Management at George Washington University) said that the Government of the United States had failed to adequately maintain their stockpile of supplies, which are vital for dealing with a pandemic, and they have since been moving too slowly; even though the nature of the situation has become apparent.

Testing delays throughout the country have also taken their toll. Levi stated that “ramping up the testing at an early date is key to controlling a viral outbreak” and that it was the “inability of the US Government” which has been a critical failure for the country; leading to the cascading consequences that have appeared. 

The pandemic response depends on the situational awareness of knowing what is going on and when. However, without this information Public Health Officials are playing catch-up and not knowing where the next outbreak will be. Comprehensive testing allows for infected individuals to be isolated efficiently which would limit the need for the wide-spread shelters that are cropping up. These shelters have led to the United States economy essentially becoming frozen and causing millions of workers to lose their jobs. President Donald Trump and his administration, had promised that 5 million tests would have been conducted by the end of March; but an independent analysis of test totals on March 30th showed that only 1 million had been carried out. Although this is the highest number of tests compared to any other country, America has a population of over 329 million people so, 1 million tests are not going to help the country be able to cope effectively. The crush of tests that followed the initial shortages have seen analysis labs becoming overwhelmed; meaning that people have had to wait a week or more for their results. This hasn’t really helped in the fight against the pandemic.

Social distancing failures have seen college students filling Florida beaches, New Yorkers packing out subways, and a Louisiana church continuing to welcome thousands of worshippers through its door. This has often been aided by the Local and State Governments who have been reluctant to shutdown businesses and keep people sheltered inside their homes. Many states have acted to contain the viral spread through mass closures of businesses and orders to stay home but, the absence of a national level means that these measures aren’t uniform across the whole country.

With so many failures already under their belt and an ever growing death toll, just what is it going to take for the United States to put more measures into place to protect its citizens from a pandemic that seems set to stay for a while longer?

 

Featured image by Emily Hook.

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Label Editor 2019-20

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