Why the US is not coping with the COVID-19 epidemic

“America is not ready for an epidemic,” “Coronavirus exposed weaknesses in the US health care system” - with such similar headings, articles were published in Forbes, The Washington Post, Harvard Business Review, Vox and other American media.

In 20 states there will not be enough places in intensive care units (an additional 9,000 beds will be needed), and in at least seven states there will be no regular beds in hospitals (almost 16,000 in total) in the coming weeks. The deficit of ventilation will be 16 524 pcs. Such a forecast was made for the government by the Institute for Measuring Health Indicators and Assessing Health Status, analyzing data as of April 6.

States and individual cities are already begging for ventilation devices, masks and dressing gowns from federal authorities and businesses. The mayor of New York via Twitter addressed to Ilon Mask and received 1255 devices. True, not a ventilator worth $ 50,000, but BIPAP for $ 800, which are used for apnea and cannot help seriously ill patients.

Leisurely redfield
In this century, America has repeatedly faced epidemics. In January 2009, Barack Obama became president, and a few months later a swine flu patient was discovered in the country. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which are involved in the fight against the epidemic, a total of 60.8 million cases were recorded, 274 304 hospitalizations and 12 469 deaths from the disease. In 2014, Ebola reached the United States. Fortunately, the case was limited to four cases. In 2016, the CDC reported 41,680 Zika virus infections (mainly in Puerto Rico), including more than 2,000 pregnant women. The danger of the virus is that in 13% of cases it causes microcephaly in the fetus.

CDC is a federal agency of the US Department of Health, established in 1946 in Atlanta to fight malaria. The agency employed only 400 people, the budget was $ 10 million. With this money, the CDC campaigned and organized mosquito treatment throughout the country. Over time, it took away all new powers, and from the Ministry of Health, one department was transferred to it from another. For example, during the outbreak of Hong Kong influenza in 1957, the CDC received the former Ministerial Department for the Control of Venereal Infections. In 1960, the same story happened with the tuberculosis control department. Now the CDC is an agency with 10,000 employees, whose budget over the past five years has fluctuated between $ 7.2 billion and $ 7.7 billion. It is headed by 68-year-old virologist Robert Redfield.

Redfield is far from being the most charismatic official in the Trump administration, notes The New York Times (NYT). Often his speeches sound tiring and overwhelmed with professional terms. He does not like public speaking, is not inclined to hasty decisions, prefers to work thoughtfully, leisurely and methodically. When parliamentarians began to demand an answer from him at the hearing how much money he considered necessary to invest in health to combat the COVID-19 epidemic, Redfield fell into a stupor and said: “I will think and answer later.” And having received the question, which of the officials is responsible for the production of the virus tests in sufficient quantities, he looked around so confused that the colleague who was present at the hearing came to the rescue - though without mentioning the names either: “The system was not ready <...> Yes, this is a failure. ” According to Hopkins University, on April 13, 558,999 people fell ill in the United States, 22,154 died.

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