America's Abysmal Response To Covid-19 On 'Reopening America'

On this episode of Reopening America, host Oscar Ramirez talks with Washington Post reporter Joel Achenbach about the nation’s ineffective response to the coronavirus pandemic. For six months, the country has been dealing with the novel coronavirus and we still have not managed to contain the spread. With no unified national response, testing shortages and long waits for results that make contact tracing useless, reopening businesses too quickly, and the silly and unnecessary over-politicization of the crisis leading to mixed messaging from national leadership, America has managed to become one of the worst-hit with cases and with one of the highest death rates in the world. How did other countries manage to contain the spread when America couldn’t?

Joel says everything Oscar mentions – the testing, the messaging, the lack of national response or consistent messaging – all contributed to the extremely high death and case count in the country, but that only scratches the surface. The psychology of the lockdown was hard on Americans partially because “we’re a big, sprawling country” and it took some time for the virus to get around, he says. So while we were sitting at home with only a few hundred cases, it seemed like an overreaction like it wouldn’t be a big deal to reopen businesses, go out and see friends and family, or even sit at a bar for a few hours – especially in more rural areas. But experts were telling us in early April to beware of reopening too quickly, because it would cause a resurgence, and that’s exactly what’s happened. 

Another reason it might have hit us particularly hard is because we’ve “underinvested in health services,” Joel points out. In general, our population has more underlying health conditions than in other countries, such as higher rates of obesity and heart disease, that can make us more vulnerable to serious illness or death from Covid-19. “This pandemic has exposed other problems,” he says, with not only our health care but also the intense political polarization that prevents us from acting “in unison” to respond to a national crisis, like a virus that doesn’t care about state borders. They discuss what Japan, South Korea, Germany, Italy, France, and several other countries did successfully, and other possible reasons for our abysmal response to this crisis; get all this essential information and more on Reopening America.

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