Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses From the United State's Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic
Ahmad Elhaija, Rita Debbaneh
Affiliation: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Published: April 12, 2023
Abstract: COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that was declared to be a pandemic by the WHO on March 11th, 2020. A catastrophic public health crisis, its effects are still being felt to this day and will certainly be experienced in the years to come–both in the United States and abroad. A 2021 report by the University of California-San Francisco Global Institute of Health Sciences critiqued the U.S response to the outbreak by assessing domestic leadership, the measures taken, and the resulting impact on healthcare, the economy, and American lives. From a political perspective, the report found that federal guidance was sluggish and unclear, leading to varied strategies among individual states; partisanship also contributed to the fragmented subnational measures. Additionally, the Center of Disease Control’s (CDC) early rejection and later promotion of face-mask use increased public division over masking mandates. This lack of organization extended towards public health interventions: ineffective contact-tracing and problems with test-kit development and capacity resulted in dramatically increased endemicity. Accompanying lockdowns continued to renew, shuttering businesses and leaving almost 27 million Americans unemployed by the end of 2020. The pandemic’s effects were especially seen in hospitals where ICUs greatly exceeded capacity and high burnout provoked physician attrition rates. Despite these shortcomings, the U.S commitment to creating a vaccine was notable. Collaboration between the private and public sectors led to a both accelerated and safe treatment development. Ultimately, the report concluded that preemptive measures should be taken to better fortify the U.S in the event of a future pandemic. Steps to consider include apolitical public health institutions, swift and better-coordinated responses from experts, and investments in resources to combat pathogen outbreaks.