The number of deaths in the United States due to the Corona virus has exceeded half a million deaths, and specialists have identified various factors for the occurrence of this large number of victims as a result of the epidemic, including the way the previous administration dealt with it, and the situation of hospitals.
With the toll exceeding 500,000 deaths, US President Joe Biden described the matter as a catastrophe, and indicated that the number of deaths due to corona infection within one year exceeded the number of Americans killed in the First and Second World Wars and the Vietnam War.
So why did the largest power in the world record such a high death toll from the disease? And what did the American specialists extract from this first year of the epidemic?
Why has the United States been hit so hard?
The Corona epidemic was an element of surprise, so says Dr. Joseph Massey, who has fought all epidemics since AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency disease), and today he is one of the officials at the Mehrst Hospital in Queens, where a large number of patients are treated in New York.
He adds that before the epidemic, the United States was monitoring the Corona virus “from a distance”. There were very few cases of “SARS” (acute respiratory syndrome, a type of corona detected in 2002).
“Suddenly, the United States found itself at the heart of the problem,” said Dr. Massey.
He continues that the “disorganized” reaction of former President Donald Trump’s government did not help, explaining, “in a country like ours with 50 states and a huge area and largely private hospital network, it was difficult to gather all opinions about the same strategy.”
The health official also said that the fact that “hospitals were competing for protective equipment did not make any sense. The issue had to be centralized very quickly, and they did not.”
Massey, as well as Dr. Michael Halpern, a specialist in infectious diseases at a hospital in the suburbs of New York, where the epidemic has spread strongly from February 2020, believes that one of the errors was allowing the wearing of masks to become a “political issue.”
With its volatility and skepticism about the virus and preventive measures, the Trump administration for the health crisis faced severe criticism.
“It is not difficult to put on the muzzle, we are used to it,” said Dr. Halburn. “But the message must be communicated to people that it is important.”
What is the first lesson?
Dr. Masi believes that the first lesson is to learn to rehabilitate hospitals, to be able to cope with a sudden influx of patients.
“We are participating in disaster preparedness exercises, and we have done many exercises but we have done nothing to simulate this. Suddenly moving from 12 beds in intensive care to 150 with the necessary staff and equipment,” he said.
Over the course of months, the General Hospital Group came up with strategies to distribute the burden among the 11 public hospitals in New York.
In general, Halpern says, “we have to realize that hospitals need resources. You have to invest in research, but also in hospitals and retirement homes. You have to have enough staff and have the equipment they need.”
The epidemic has also revealed the size of the disparity in the health field in the United States, especially housing, which particularly affects black minorities or those of Latin American descent, as Massey asserts.
The American doctor says that the mixing caused by small housing makes it difficult to respect the rules of social distancing, and ways to adapt these housing units to future epidemics should be considered, because “there will be other epidemics.”
Will the masks be put on until the end of the year?
Despite the acceleration of the vaccination campaign, doubts still surround the mutated versions of the virus that have appeared in Britain and South Africa, prompting experts to continue to exercise caution.
Without these copies, and with the vaccination of more than 70% of the population, Masi says, there could be “good chances not to put on masks” by the end of 2021. He adds that if they continue to spread it will be “much harder to say we’re going to finish it” in December / Next December.
For her part, Halpern said, “I hope that vaccines are effective, but it is difficult to ensure that they will work in the long term or on new mutations,” adding, “We must prepare to continue this matter for a while.”
In the long term, Massey says, “We must not fall into the trap of forgetting” and not think about the epidemic after it is over.
“It is disturbing to think that all of these things happened without warning. We should actually have a global system to monitor disease pathogens because we live in an era in which we can no longer say: Something is happening, Asia will not affect America,” he said.