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COVID-19 reveals gaps in U.S. healthcare system

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Why wasn’t our healthcare system better prepared to battle the disease, and what lessons must we learn going forward? NORFOLK, Va. — It’s the long-awaited light at the end of the tunnel: the sight of shots going into people’s arms and COVID-19 case counts falling, But our “new normal” has perhaps masked the dark underbelly of what the pandemic revealed about the healthcare system in the United States.

“You look at how we responded to the pandemic, arguably the worst of any country in the world,” said Dr. William Oldfield, an infectious disease expert at EVMS who argues our healthcare system wasn’t prepared for COVID-19.

During the 2009 swine flu outbreak, the Strategic National Stockpile distributed 85 million masks, gloves, and gowns. None of that was replaced. Instead, a decision was made to stockpile medicines developed to deal with the threat of a bio-terrorist attack.

Additionally, the U.S. saw an 18 percent drop in public health funding and the loss of 38,000 jobs.

“So we entered this pandemic with a completely depleted and underfunded public health system,” Dr. Oldfield said.

Dr. Patrick Jackson, an infectious disease expert with UVA Health, sees gaps in the delivery of healthcare as well.”In reality, we spend a huge […]

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