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Unfortunately, ominous pathogens, viruses, and bacteria seem to arrive every few years. After all, there was SARS in 2003, swine flu in 2009, Ebola in 2014, Zika in 2016, and finally, COVID-19 in 2019. According to the World Health Organization, these viral threats encourage policymakers to think broadly about the next pandemic and how it might shape our global community. If the previous pandemic taught us anything, 2025 would not fare well.

Generally, experts agree that America did learn considerably from the past year, but preparedness still holds significant gaps. Unfortunately, some cracks are too large for any administration to fix. With an inept response to the Coronavirus, the United States needs to do better when the next pandemic strikes.

Considering the Public Health Capacity

The United States is notorious for spending on health care, but the infrastructure holds nothing over spreading an infectious disease. Should a person has strep throat, they visit a doctor and receive treatment. Public health workers remain at the front line when a nation uncovers an epidemic. Unfortunately, the United States struggled with contact tracing thanks to budget cuts in 2008. As spending on local and state departments continues to decline, it spells disaster moving forward.

Most public health systems are drastically outdated, especially regarding counting COVID-19 statistics (including death), vaccine status, or sharing information and data across state lines. Although promises of further funding exist, experts recommend a larger annual public health budget. Yearly revenue is the only order to make payroll.

Developing Testing

The U.S. was behind with coronavirus testing because the FDA’s authorization process was too slow. This process, called emergency use authorization, was too slow for the speed of this virus. After early testing issues, the FDA quickly changed the authorization process to enable labs to process tests more quickly. Unfortunately, this doesn’t guarantee testing will go more smoothly next time. The FDA remains answerable to whoever is in charge, leaving incentivization to slow testing (to lessen infection rates).

Medical Supply Shortage

While American learned of the COVID-19 pandemic, they also uncovered the national stockpile. That meant a strategic reserve of N95 masks. Unfortunately, the government distributed approximately 85 million N95s during the swine flu pandemic and failed to replenish the supply. This blunder led to a shortage of masks just as healthcare workers needed them most. While this shortage is alleviated currently, it doesn’t guarantee similar results next time.

Unfortunately, supply issues weren’t with protective gear during the pandemic, with millions of Americans struggling to access a vaccine. As three vaccines became publicly available, Americans scrambled to access the potentially life-saving medication. The chaos and confusion resulted in many Americans booking multiple appointments, failing online booking systems, and vaccine waste due to no-shows during the hysteria. One platform tackled the predicted vaccine waste with an automated standby service. Many a Dr. B review confirms this network helped fill the gaps in vaccine distribution, sending automated messages to willing candidates needing immunization for clinics in the area with extra doses.

The Community Response

During the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, Americans were to stay home for two weeks if testing positive for COVID-19 or if they were potentially exposed to it. Unfortunately, months into the pandemic showed they weren’t quarantining at all. The most significant reason was economics – they didn’t have an income if they didn’t work. Without a guarantee of income, many Americans living paycheck to paycheck were forced to choose between isolating for herd immunity and surviving a pandemic.

Although the federal government passed multiple laws that allowed Americans to stay home if they were ill (or had to care for sick children), the concept of paid time off was so new that many didn’t know they could take it. These provisions have now expired, leaving America in the same position it was during COVID-19. If paid leave isn’t available through legislation before the next pandemic, Americans will likely make the same choices.

The Final Verdict

The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced many healthcare provisions moving forward, particularly regarding quarantine and transmission of viruses. While a new pathogen appears every three or four years, Americans have learned nothing from the past to offer long-standing protection in the future. For that reason, Americans are not prepared for the next chaotic pandemic that unfolds.