In January of 2020, an outbreak of a deadly unknown respiratory illness in Wuhan, China thrust the Covid-19 virus into global headlines. Despite months to prepare, the U.S. was unable to prevent the virus from slipping in and infecting millions of Americans.
By March of 2020, our healthcare system was on the verge of being overwhelmed. Supply chain problems led to shortages in personal protection equipment, testing kits, drugs, and ventilators. Healthcare workers went to the frontlines expecting to be infected. Only the critically ill were brought into the emergency room, which led to many “mild” cases to suffer the disease at home with no treatment. Non-emergency patients, including cancer patients, held off on important medical care for months. With ambulances being called too late, the results were deaths both at the hospital and at home.
Now, months into the crisis, the science of the pandemic is better known, and better treatments have been found. Telehealth options are also expanding and these provide safer options for pandemic-affected states. However, active disinformation campaigns have undermined our nation’s ability to contain the coronavirus. America’s number of infected and deaths top the world’s and continue to surge.
With healthcare taking the spotlight, rising healthcare costs are triggering renewed debates. Americans have the highest healthcare cost per capita in the world, and the country is one of the few developed countries without a national health care system. The economic crash following the lockdowns has caused millions of Americans to lose their employer-sponsored health insurance. Many of those struggling financially are forced to prioritize other payments over their health.
America is still in the midst of the storm, but rays of light are showing through the clouds. Across the world, vaccines are currently being tested and showing positive results. The pandemic will pass; hopefully, America will reflect on the experience and change our national healthcare system so that our children will never have to repeat this experience again.