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Reflections on the US epidemic policy since the outbreak of the virus in the United States

It was on January 18, 2020, that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed the emergence of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the United States. From there the virus spread like fire in the US. A research of University of Notre Dame suggests that by early March, 2020, around 100,000 people had already been infected. By the end of December, the figure had reached over 20 million. At the end of 2021, the number of cases increased to 55 million. 43 million more cases have been recorded since, making it a total of 98 million.

As a result of the outbreak, the medical system went out of control. During the pandemic, finding a vacant bed in a hospital was rare. Almost all beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients. The patients with other diseases were given second priority. Due to shortage of hospitals, many convention centers and parking garages were converted into field hospitals. Still, many medical professionals reported that they had limited resources to treat the coronavirus patients. These included limited personal protective equipment, shortage of oxygen tanks and lack of enough healthcare professionals to deal with a plethora of patients.

The US is among the top nations in health spending, but its medical system lies among the bottom ones. It remained below par in sufficing the pandemic needs. Some of the reasons are lack of access to healthcare, shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and inefficiency of the government machinery. In January, 2022, Forbes reported that almost 25 per cent of all hospital beds across country were occupied by COVID-19 patients. Meanwhile, other patients are struggling to get treatment. Michelle Wike ( founder of All-Staffing Inc., a nursing agency in Baltimore)said If we did have a strained structure prior to, and it certainly has made it even greater. ”

In the initial stage of the COVID-19 outbreak in the US, the matter was not taken seriously. Granted that such a large-scale emergency was unexpected, but the attitude of then government was shocking. From calling the virus a “hoax” to “China-virus”, President Donald Trump kept on undermining the severity of the disease. It is safe to say that the initial response of the government was poor.

When other high-income countries were introducing testing and isolation, the Trump administration stated that the virus was “very much under control”. The US was lagging behind in testing. One of the first orders by the president was to seal off the borders. The government under Trump administration did not issue a national plan in combating the outbreak. It gave more power to the states, and held that the federal government will act as “last resort” and “backup” for the states. The government ordered first activity restriction or lockdown on March 12th, 2020. A study showed that there could have been 36,000 less COVID-19 deaths had the lockdown been imposed earlier.

The overall mismanagement of the governments cost the US a great deal. The pandemic has killed over 1 million people so far. Over 98 million cases have been reported. It has crippled the US healthcare system. The US GDP fell by 8.9 per cent in the second half of 2020. More than 20 million people lost their jobs. The total economic loss is expected to be more than $16 trillion. On societal level, people were extremely disturbed as educational, recreational and other public activities came to a halt. Not to mention, the mental health of people was equally affected.

Despite the fact that there are hundreds of weekly deaths by COVID-19, President Joe Biden said, “The pandemic is over.” As a result, the authorities have relaxed the pandemic restrictions. “What I found is that the nurses are resilient for those who could work. They went to work even risking, contracting of course COVID and exposing it to their own families.” Michelle Wike( founder of All-Staffing Inc., a nursing agency in Baltimore) said. Now, people are more prone to catching the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) still lists COVID-19 as a pandemic. It is certainly not over yet as weekly average death rate in the US is more than 300. Biden’s statements regarding the pandemic being over imply that the necessary funding to deal with the pandemic might get reduced. Now that he has won the mid-term elections, he has an advantage in the Congress. This potential cutback in healthcare sector could result in even more cases and fatalities.

The pandemic is still nowhere near end. The federal government has to do more. It must devolve its authority to the states. States should be allowed to reform their medical programs and allocate the funds according to their individual coronavirus situation. But, the states must not be given uncontrolled funding. The primary target should be combating the virus outbreak. The government should hire more people and train them to deal with the pandemic. More than 20 per cent Americans are not vaccinated. The government should establish at-home vaccination drive so that every citizen can be dosed comfortably. Furthermore, parents of younger people should be convinced to get their kids jabbed. On financial front, the government should subsidize the testing costs to facilitate the lockdown-hit patients. People experiencing Long Covid are largely ignored. Many of these people are unable to work and earn a living. A special allocation of funds is advisable for the victims of Long Covid.

The best way I could answer is that, you know, as this virus came about, we were all learning it. There certainly wasn’t a cookie cut example that we could follow.” Michelle Wike (founder of All-Staffing Inc., a nursing agency in Baltimore)said, “ It was something that was new and we had to then quickly, because it spread so fast, put our infrastructures in place and find out who was most vulnerable.” The statistics show that the US is nowhere near pandemic-free. As opposed to giving false hope to people, the current administration must deal with the situation efficiently. In order to completely get rid of the pandemic, the government needs a more efficient approach. Strict protocols need to be followed. Smartly planned lockdowns must be implemented so that economy may not come to rest. The Biden administration should not introduce any bill affecting the funds of the healthcare sector. In addition, the government needs to conduct mass-scale testing and introduce home quarantine practices.

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