Instead of being the best in the world, we are the worst!
As I look back over the last six months, since January 22, I've done more than 360 blog posts about the coronavirus. Starting with what was happening in China with the disease popping up and then the construction of temporary hospitals in record time. Since then I've followed the messaging and the progress of the disease, first overseas and then here in the United States.
When you compare the USA against other modern industrialized nations we are seriously lagging in where the disease is in our respective nations.
What's the big difference? A national strategy that is vigorously prosecuted and adapted as more about the disease has become known. The other major factor is public messaging by politicians and the medical community. You cannot have one group of individuals saying one thing, "We've got to open back up!" And then, public health officials suggesting more caution, establishing standards and benchmarks for reopening that, while espoused as a national standard are ignored by those who want the economy to bounce back quickly--perhaps only for their own personal political gain. That from the national leaders who confirmed the national standard for repopening.
We seriously stubbed out toe in the beginning with a failed Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 test and here we are six months later and testing remains one of the significant issues being faced by governments, businesses, and individuals. We have the President saying what great results we are getting from our testing and how we have tested more than any other nation. Number of tests--yes! In proportion to our national population--No! I heard a news item where a state asked FEMA with help on testing and the materials and the reply was, "they are getting out of that business."
Personal Protective Equipment had a federally led effort that was helping get PPE to the organizations that needed it. That effort stopped short of developing a USA based manufacturing capability for the future we are about to be back to square one with PPE shortages again popping up in the hardest hit areas of the nation.
We need first and foremost to have our elected officials to be on the same page with public health officers. Politicians should not politicize the the science! I remember Southern state governors crowing about how they "were not New York City." Last night I watched the Governor of Mississippi pleading with his state's population to "wear a mask." Texas and Florida are in that same category of people who are now ruing the days they made fun of NYC. The final straw, should it come, is when they have to, for public health reasons, issue state-wide or county by county "stay at home" orders. They will be reluctant to do so, but it is the last arrow in the quiver of actions that they have left to take.
Still today, we have no national strategy other than to say "how well we are doing" and "it is getting better and better."
As November elections approach, it is highly likely that the political refrain may be, "It is the virus stupid!"