Should the U.S. be prepared for the next pandemic?


The United States debates whether or not to stay prepared for future pandemics.

Jordan Denzler

The United States of America is known as a melting pot—a place where people of any culture, race or religion can meet and spread ideas…and COVID-19.

The easiest way to gauge the effects of COVID-19 in the United States is to look at the economy, which took a significant hit during the pandemic. The effects of the pandemic on the economy were discussed in a report released by the White House.

According to the report, “the U.S. economy suffered one of the sharpest contractions in its history during 2020.”

There have been 30,577 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people in the United States, far above the 9,683 global cases per 100,000 according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Considering the protocols the U.S. had in place to combat this specific situation, as well as its status as a first world country, it’s safe to say that the pandemic could have been handled better.Following the U.S.’s failure to control COVID-19, many Americans are left wondering how to best prepare for the next pandemic.

The first step in preparing for the next pandemic is ending the first one. Contrary to popular belief, COVID-19 is still extremely prevalent. According to the New York Times, the seven-day average for the first week of February of 2023 was 43,301 new cases; this is more than any week in the first six months of the pandemic, late spring of 2021, spring of 2022 and fall of 2022. Compared to other first world countries, the U.S. has the sixth highest number of new cases in the past week.

The New York Times further explained that only 68% of the United States is fully vaccinated compared to the 66% global vaccination rate. Considering that the U.S. was one of the first nations with full vaccine rollout, these numbers display the real effects of vaccine hesitancy and how it influenced the continued spread of COVID-19.

Vaccine hesitancy and other misinformation have played a significant role in hindering the elimination of COVID-19 from the U.S. Ultimately, it’s important for both the average citizen and the government to continue pressuring those around them to get vaccinated in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Junior James Matthews of Middletown believes vaccines are crucial for public health.

“Vaccine promotion is one of the best ways to defend against disease,” Matthews said.

Lockdowns and isolating oneself was extremely important in containing COVID-19 and needs to be done correctly and efficiently, not only to prevent further spread of COVID-19, but also future pandemics.

According to the New York Times, Florida has the eighth most cases per capital and exhibited some of the most relaxed lockdown policies in the nation, repealing most policies by September of 2020. On the other end of the spectrum, mainland China had some of the strictest COVID-19 mandates seen until late 2022, resulting in few cases. However, once lockdown was lifted, both cases and deaths spiked.

Nonetheless, Vermont paved the way for COVID-19 precautions in the U.S. Going forward, both nations and states should reflect on Vermont’s actions when combatting another pandemic. According to Politico, Vermont handled the pandemic the best in terms of health metrics, due to their lockdown ending in stages and remaining firm in their policies. Examining these cases tells us that the best way to proceed in the event of another pandemic would be an initial strict lockdown followed by gradual reopening.

For now, people are hoping there will not be another situation in which the government will need to shut down, but it is already looking like that is not the case. According to Nature, there has been an outbreak of an avian flu – H5N1 – in minks, proving that it can spread amongst mammals, causing concerns that it might be the next human pandemic. However, in order to move forward, the U.S. must both end the current pandemic and learn how to prepare for the next one, otherwise we will risk another health disaster.

“I think it’s only inevitable that the US will crumble if there’s another health disaster,” said junior Ethan Wen of Marlboro.