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Coronavirus response reveals major deficiencies in U.S. healthcare system: scientific journal editorial

(Xinhua)    10:58, May 08, 2020

WASHINGTON, May 7 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed major deficiencies and inequities in the country's healthcare system, shining a spotlight on improvements that must be made to steel it for future disasters, said an editorial published on Science Advances on Thursday.

"U.S. healthcare is incentivized to react to sickness rather than proactively focus on health maintenance," said the editorial by Maia Dorsett, assistant professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

The COVID-19 pandemic should be defined as a mass casualty incident (MCI), which occur when casualties overwhelm local resources such as personnel and equipment, said the editorial.

Public health systems designed to improve the health of the general population are underfunded and understaffed, noted the editorial.

Emergency departments have been operating near or beyond capacity, while underlying issues such as housing, food security, and safety from violence remain inadequately addressed, it added.

These systemic weaknesses make it more difficult for the U.S. society to cope with slow-moving MCIs such as COVID-19, it stressed.

Understanding four phases of the emergency management cycle can help analyze and guide the response to COVID-19, which are mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery, according to the editorial.

Inadequate preparation for COVID-19, including stockpiling personal protective equipment, ventilators, and testing equipment, led to a sense of betrayal among healthcare professionals forced to contend with the novel coronavirus using inadequate resources, said the editorial.

"Emergency management is a cycle and we must now use the recovery phase to analyze the strengths and deficiencies of our response to begin the mitigation and planning phases for the next, unplanned hazard," it said.

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