Pandemic Preparedness

September 4, 2020 • Volume 30, Issue 31
Will the United States learn from its response to COVID-19?
By Bara Vaida


With a vast public health infrastructure, a wealth of drugs, hospitals, health care providers and scientists, the United States seemed well positioned to be one of the best-prepared countries to contain a pandemic. Yet the nation's response to COVID-19 has revealed otherwise. The virus has now infected over 6 million Americans, more than any other country, and killed over 184,000. The nation's leaders have struggled to implement basic infectious disease control management measures, such as data gathering, testing, contact tracing and distribution of critical medical supplies to health care providers. Some experts say President Trump failed to follow the pandemic-response plan established during the Obama administration, while others complain that Congress has never fully and reliably funded existing pandemic plans. Meanwhile, other new pathogens, perhaps more deadly than the coronavirus, likely will jump from animals to humans, according to experts. This reality is spurring lawmakers to examine what went wrong with the U.S. pandemic response and to create a more workable plan for future outbreaks. But such federal reform is unlikely to occur until after November's election.

Photo of Carmen Garcia entering a mobile COVID-19 testing facility in Miami Beach, Florida, in July. (Getty Images/Joe Raedle)
Carmen Garcia enters a mobile COVID-19 testing site in Miami Beach, Fla., in July. When the coronavirus pandemic began spreading across the United States, the Trump administration decided not to adopt a nationwide testing program but left it up to each state to acquire the hard-to-find tests and establish their own programs. (Getty Images/Joe Raedle)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Disasters and Preparedness
Sep. 04, 2020  Pandemic Preparedness
Jan. 12, 2018  Disaster Readiness
Sep. 22, 2017  Climate Change and National Security
Aug. 02, 2013  Preparing for Disaster
Jun. 25, 2010  Offshore Drilling
Feb. 03, 2006  Rebuilding New Orleans
Nov. 18, 2005  Disaster Preparedness Updated
Dec. 16, 1994  Earthquake Research
Oct. 15, 1993  Disaster Response
Jul. 15, 1988  Slow Progress in Earthquake Prediction
Apr. 12, 1985  Tornadoes
Jul. 16, 1976  Earthquake Forecasting
Mar. 19, 1969  Earthquakes: Causes and Consequences
Aug. 22, 1962  Government Stockpiling
Jan. 18, 1956  Disaster Insurance
Mar. 06, 1952  Mobilization for a Prolonged Emergency
Jul. 01, 1950  Stand-By Laws for War
Jan. 09, 1928  Economic Effects of the Mississippi Flood
May 19, 1927  Mississippi River Flood Relief and Control
Biology and Life Sciences
Congress Actions
Conservatism and Liberalism
Consumer Protection and Product Liability
Economic Crises
General International Relations
General Social Trends
Infectious Diseases
Medical Devices and Technology
Medical Profession and Personnel
Medical Research and Advocacy
Party Politics
Party Politics
Unemployment and Employment Programs