Why is the United States, arguably one of the wealthiest countries on the entire planet, being ravaged by COVID-19? An excellent healthcare system alone would not have stopped the virus. Obviously, with any illness, a vaccine is needed to kill the virus permanently. However, the reason why over 48,000 people have died in this country is simple: a lack of necessary medical supplies, a large number of people not insured, and the inadequate facilities in this country. A country that is considered a superpower should have a decent healthcare system in place for all its citizens.
The lapses have been shocking. Basic medical supplies such as gloves, masks, and ventilators are essential in every hospital in the world. So why does a city as large as New York City need to ration ventilators due to shortage? Hospitals around the country are reporting shortages of masks and other protective equipment that is essential to these medical professionals. A country that routinely spends billions and billions of dollars on matters such as national defense cannot seem to find enough medical supplies for its citizens.
Rather than have supplies and essential products such as ventilators made here in this country, the United States is relying on another country: China. However, Time reported that in mid-February, shipments coming from China were stopped due to their fight with the virus. Medical supplies for the citizens of a country should not be dependent upon another country but instead, should be made and supplied by said country. If another outbreak were to occur (God forbid) without the proper medical equipment, this country might have great difficulty recovering.
Many economists are saying that the fallout of this virus is going to hurt the U.S. severely over the next couple of years. Ventilators for those who severely need it must be in excess, rather than a shortage. Hospitals in this country were also not able to withstand the brute force of this outbreak. Newsweek reported that the mayor of New York’s office stated that they need surplus hospital beds by May, or the city will risk losing even more lives. It’s better to be proactive than reactive. Medical supplies should always be stocked in the case of an event as catastrophic as this.
A healthcare system should make sure all citizens of a country are insured and covered in case of any illnesses or and it’s this case any potential outbreak. A family that has someone with potential COVID symptoms may want to go to the hospital. If they are not insured the costs that will come from treatment can set a family in crippling debt. The United States has always dismissed the notion of a universal health care system so one can’t help but wonder just how many deaths could have been avoided if all Americans were properly insured.
Some 156 million Americans are insured as of December 2019. That is just about less than half of the country’s population. The red flag is hard to miss. With that number, even something as simple as an Influenza outbreak could harm many aspects of this country. Many citizens are not able to afford the basic treatment and medicine that is needed to fight an outbreak, let alone a novel coronavirus outbreak, for which there are less effective treatments and a much higher mortality rate. A country to allow over 150 million of their citizens not to be insured is just wrong.
The topic of a universal healthcare system has been a conversation for about a decade now. In the aftermath of this pandemic, the problem must be taken more seriously. A system where every single person is given quality care in the unfortunate event of contracting an illness or virus must be essential in this country. A system where families feel secure and confident in their chances in case of the unfortunate event of contracting an illness is not a luxury. It is a necessity.
A proactive country is one that will survive. Some European countries, such as Germany, have thousands of cases of COVID, yet the death rate is meager. Strict lockdown measures have significantly helped. The effort put forth by the people to follow guidelines regarding social distancing and hygiene has helped. When a country is not proactive early in the process, and most importantly, when they lack the proper infrastructure and resources to help its citizens in case of contracting this virus, no measure can help.
A country cannot allow over 150 million of its citizens to go without insurance. It is proving to be a deadly mistake. A country borrowing medical supplies from other countries, rather than making the products here, is a country not ready to fight against a pandemic. With a country as large as the United States, this shouldn’t even be a problem. Now the next step should be to fixing them, so history doesn’t repeat itself.