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Blaming China won't solve America's problems

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-09-24 09:47

Missteps and lost opportunities

In addition to these missed early warnings, other major missteps and lost opportunities at the federal level have also contributed to the surging cases, especially stalled testing issues.

Coronavirus testing, early treatment, contact tracing, isolation, mask wearing, social distancing, travel restrictions, shelter-in-place, and lockdowns are all blunt but crucial steps and instruments in fighting a pandemic. Testing is a key link in the chain of necessary measures of response. As Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior adviser at the World Health Organization said, testing was "absolutely vital" for understanding how to defeat a disease. He said at the WHO media briefing on COVID-19 on March 16 that "we have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test."

The White House assembled a task force that "coordinates and oversees the Administration's efforts to monitor, prevent, contain, and mitigate the spread" of COVID-19. But early on the members of the coronavirus task force typically devoted only five or 10 minutes, often at the end of contentious meetings, to talk about testing, several participants recalled, according to the New York Times interviews. The CDC insisted upon devising its own test for COVID-19, and came out with a flawed test that didn't work as expected, then took weeks to figure out a fix. Hence a lost month for the US.

Another problem hampered timely and extensive testing. On many occasions, testing was delayed for a long time because the patient didn't fit restrictive federal criteria, which limited tests only to symptomatic patients who recently traveled to China. The restrictive testing guidelines helped mask the numbers contracting the coronavirus in the US.

If you don't run tests, then you won't have a clear picture of confirmed cases and how the virus spreads. Armed with such an under-reported case number, the Trump administration could boast of keeping the spread under control, but missed its best chance of containing the virus's spread. Had the US been able to track the virus's earliest reach and identify hidden hot spots of community transmission, local quarantines might have been able to confine the disease, according to reports in the New York Times.

The federal government's failure to respond to the coronavirus pandemic has been apparent in its bungled messaging downplaying the crisis, in its inability to send out millions of much needed test kits and protective medical gear for health care workers, and its lack of will to seek national solidarity and international collaboration on fighting COVID-19.

There are some root causes for the negligence, inaction and loopholes in dealing with the pandemic.

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