The public health system, limping along on local tax receipts, kills mosquitoes and traces the contacts of people with sexually transmitted diseases. It has been outmatched by the pandemic.
There was no Pentagon ready to fight the war on this pandemic, no wartime draft law. There was eventually a White House Coronavirus Task Force, but it has been led by politicians, not medical experts.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is one of the great disease-detective agencies in the world, and its doctors have contributed mightily in skirmishes against Ebola, Zika and any number of other health threats.
But the agency retreated into silence, its director, Dr. Robert Redfield, almost invisible — humbled by a fiasco in the failure to produce basic diagnostic testing.
Now at least 160 million Americans have been ordered to stay home in states from California to New York. Schools are closed, often along with bars, restaurants and many other businesses. Hospitals are coping with soaring numbers of patients in New York City, even as supplies of essential protective gear and equipment dwindle.
Other hospitals, other communities fear what may be coming.
“We are the new global epicenter of the disease,” said Dr. Sara Keller, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
“Now, all we can do is to slow the transmission as much as possible by hunkering down in our houses while, as a country, we ramp up production of personal protective equipment, materials needed for testing, and ventilators.”
This content was originally published here.