As much of the world has seen their COVID-19 numbers plummet and some return to a semblance of normal life, the pandemic still rages across America. One reason is the unforgivable vacuum of leadership and strategy at the national level. Another cause is the longtime neglect of our healthcare infrastructure.
In Colorado, our local health agencies have been underfunded by as much as 40% year after year. This is broadly true nationwide, where longtime underinvestment and bad federal policy have combined to give America one of the highest rates of people who are uninsured, endure chronic conditions, or lack access to routine, preventive care. The pandemic has cruelly exploited these conditions and brought the cost of our underinvestment into deadly focus.
After decades of neglect, our healthcare system cannot conjure epidemiologists or contact tracers from thin air to address a pandemic. It cannot magically conduct massive public outreach, provide sustained support for vulnerable populations, and, eventually, administer hundreds of millions of vaccine doses without sufficient personnel and resources in place.
As long as this remains true, the virus will continue to spread, claiming lives, keeping kids from school, straining mental health, and pushing millions of small businesses to the brink of closure. We cannot allow this to happen again. Although Congress has provided some support for hospitals and other providers since February, far more is required.