By Rodrigo Villegas
As of November 2nd, the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths has been steadily declining and reaching a plateau. However, as the U.S. heads into winter—the third COVID winter—there seems to be a growing unease about what to expect from the upcoming cold season.
This time around, America should be ready for a potential COVID surge. After all, there are updated vaccines readily available to the public. Yet, is America truly prepared for what’s to come? Most, if not all, of the preventative measures employed last winter and the one before have been lifted.
The U.S. government has terminated programs meant to supply Americans with free COVID tests and vaccines, and the CDC terminated their program to supply free N95 masks. And now, prevention strategies are a matter of personal choice. “To each their own,” as many would put it.
COVID-19 should not rule people’s lives anymore, but the U.S. government should be proactive in preventing a potentially dark and grave winter. Instead of adopting a reactionary approach, the U.S. government should work towards creating the best possible outcome by keeping some measures in place. As mentioned earlier, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have been declining, but that won’t stop another wave of COVID-19 infections from arising.
Some European countries are already seeing a rise in infections. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, reported to NPR, “In the past, what’s happened in Europe often has been a harbinger for what’s about to happen in the United States.”
Is it possible the U.S. sees the onset of a wave of infections like Europe? While it is too early to be able to confirm that, American leaders should not wait and react.
Even if this tendency does not come to fruition, COVID-19 is, and will, continue to be an issue during the holidays. The U.S. continues to see a considerable number of hospitalizations each day, overwhelming the health-care system in certain parts of the country.
Healthcare systems are stretched thin with a high number of sick people and a decrease in the number of healthcare workers. With healthcare workers becoming exhausted from the piling stress of helping patients since the start of the pandemic, many have decided to retire or leave their position in order to save themselves from mental ruin.
In a precarious situation like this, should the U.S. government truly be ending programs meant to reduce the spread of COVID-19? The Biden administration alerted Americans of a possible increase in COVID-19 infections in winter earlier this year but is failing to spread that message now. Leaving prevention measures up to individuals and a heavy reliance on vaccines will not be enough to avoid a tragic winter.
COVID-19 has been here for quite some time now and is likely to stay. Every individual is beginning to feel the fatigue of having to keep up with guidelines, but that should not deter Americans from paving the way for a future that minimizes cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Since the start of the pandemic, America (and the world) has experienced a number of hardships to the point that people have become numb to the consequences of this virus. Instead of waiting around for the statistics to climb, American leaders should be proactive in reducing the spread of COVID-19 this upcoming winter.