Exactly one week ago, in communities across the United States, people were participating in mass gatherings of all types without much of a thought. However, once NBA players and iconic names like Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, were infected with COVID-19 and hotspots of coronavirus community spread were evident, everything changed. We are in a new normal the likes of which none of us have ever seen in our lifetimes. All college and professional sports seasons are suspended or cancelled, universities have sent students home and transitioning to online courses, it’s recommended to stay off of cruise ships, out of places of worship, or any large concentrated gathering of people (particularly if you are older and have any type of preexisting chronic condition). In short, this is serious – and it’s become so in very short order!
While I am not a public health expert and do not have any specialized knowledge of COVID-19, from my professional vantage point in healthcare and from my perspective as a concerned and caring citizen, I offer brief commentary on the matter in this Health Care Quality Insights blog article.
As one of the former senior executives in my leadership at Johnson & Johnson used to say, “the time to fix the roof is while the sun is shining.” Unfortunately, for us right now, in this situation with COVID-19, it’s raining, and we have defects in our roof.
Even though we are in the nascent stages of this pandemic, tough early lessons are already being learned. One such lesson is…"what we cannot see, can hurt us, if we are not prepared." We’re in the midst of seeing this play out in front of our very eyes. Viral public health threats are not discriminatory of class, position, race, political party, geography, etc. Our country’s greatest weapon against the potential lethality of viruses are prudent and evidence-based public health resourcing, policy, and practices integrated with well-functioning federal, state, and local governments. We are, unfortunately, witnessing the beginning manifestations of matters not being managed well at the highest level of our government.
When we find ourselves on the other side of this pandemic, it is my sincere hope that we will have learned the lesson well, “the time to fix our roof is when the sun is still shining.” And, for me that would translate to: (1) strongly supported and well-funded public health expert governance and infrastructure and (2) evidence-based public health policy.
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