Regardless of whether Trump or Joe Biden wins the election, though, the next president will confront a dual challenge: managing the current pandemic and ensuring that the country and the world are better prepared when the next plague strikes — as it inevitably will.
Here at home, three of the most glaring failures relate to testing, science-based communication and the protection of vulnerable populations.
The success of public health measures like contact tracing, mask-wearing, and social distancing depends on individuals and communities trusting and adhering to advice from medical professionals and scientists, sometimes delivered by elected and other officials. That public trust must be earned and sustained.
Going forward, state and local health agencies should collect and publicly report data by age, race, gender and other relevant socio-demographic status. Armed with better data, US government authorities at all levels should target public health investments to increase the resilience of these communities, including universal paid sick leave in declared pandemics, accessible and free testing, and workplace protections and personal protective equipment for essential workers. Social justice and equity in our existing health care system is not just a moral mandate — it is a matter of basic pandemic preparedness.