Monday, August 03, 2020

Quote of the Day

Despite ample warning, the U.S. squandered every possible opportunity to control the coronavirus. And despite its considerable advantages – immense resources, biomedical might, scientific expertise – it floundered. While countries as different as South Korea, Thailand, Iceland, Slovakia, and Australia acted decisively to bend the curve of infections downward, the U.S. achieved merely a plateau in the spring, which changed to an appalling upward slope in the summer. “The U.S. fundamentally failed in ways that were worse than I ever could have imagined,” Julia Marcus, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, told me.

Since the pandemic began, I have spoken with more than 100 experts in a variety of fields. I’ve learned that almost everything that went wrong with America’s response to the pandemic was predictable and preventable. A sluggish response by a government denuded of expertise allowed the coronavirus to gain a foothold. Chronic underfunding of public health neutered the nation’s ability to prevent the pathogen’s spread. A bloated, inefficient health-care system left hospitals ill-prepared for the ensuing wave of sickness. Racist policies that have endured since the days of colonization and slavery left Indigenous and Black Americans especially vulnerable to COVID‑19. The decades-long process of shredding the nation’s social safety net forced millions of essential workers in low-paying jobs to risk their life for their livelihood. The same social-media platforms that sowed partisanship and misinformation during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Africa and the 2016 U.S. election became vectors for conspiracy theories during the 2020 pandemic.

. . . Despite its epochal effects, COVID‑19 is merely a harbinger of worse plagues to come. The U.S. cannot prepare for these inevitable crises if it returns to normal, as many of its people ache to do. Normal led to this. Normal was a world ever more prone to a pandemic but ever less ready for one. To avert another catastrophe, the U.S. needs to grapple with all the ways normal failed us. It needs a full accounting of every recent misstep and foundational sin, every unattended weakness and unheeded warning, every festering wound and reopened scar.

Ed Yong
Excerpted from “How the Pandemic Defeated America
in the September 2020 print edition of The Atlantic
with the headline “Anatomy of an American Failure”

Related Off-site Links:
How Jared Kushner’s Secret Testing Plan “Went Poof Into Thin Air” – Katherine Eban (Vanity Fair, July 30, 2020).
Kushner’s COVID-19 Team Ended Plan for Nationwide Testing Because They Didn’t Want to Help Democratic States – Cristina Cabrera (Talking Points Memo, July 31, 2020).
Trump and Kushner Should Be Prosecuted for Crimes Against Humanity – David Atkins (Washington Monthly, August 1, 2020).
Trump Heads to His Own Golf Club as Covid-19 Surges and Jobless Benefits ExpireThe Guardian (August 1, 2020).
Masks May Reduce Viral Dose, Some Experts Say – Katherine J. Wu (The New York Times, July 27, 2020).
It's Time to Start Handing Out Fines to People Who Refuse to Wear Masks – Kathi Valeii (Business Insider, August 2, 2020).
Public Health Expert Says “Zero Doubt” Most U.S. Virus Deaths Were AvoidablePBS Newshour (July 30, 2020).

UPDATES: As GOP Blocks Covid Relief, Experts Warn of “Wave of Despair” and Devastating Anecdotes Show Crisis Already Here – Julia Conley (Common Dreams, August 13, 2020).
What Will Happen If We Can't Produce a Coronavirus Vaccine? And Is Herd Immunity the Answer? – Sarah Pitt (ABC News, August 14, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Lancet Weighs-in on the Trump Administration's “Incoherent” Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor: Quote of the Day – June 9, 2020
An Infectious Disease Specialist Weighs-in on Covid-19
James Martin, SJ: Quote of the Day – May 22, 2020
Marianne Williamson: In the Midst of This “Heartbreaking” Pandemic, It's Okay to Be Heartbroken
The Calm Before the Storm
In the Midst of Crisis, Learning Resistance and Vision-Seeking from the Indigenous and African-American Experience
The Crisis Is Not About the Virus
Examining the Link Between Destruction of Biodiversity and Emerging Infectious Diseases
Something to Think About – April 22, 2020
Marianne Williamson: “This Is a Time of Transformation”
“You're All Kings and Queens”
Memes of the Times
Sonya Renee Taylor: Quote of the Day – April 18, 2020
Ken Butigan: Quote of the Day – March 17, 2020
Hope and Beauty in the Midst of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
A Prayer in Times of a Pandemic

Image: The New York Times' Coronavirus in the U.S. Map and Case Count for August 3, 2020.

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