Activism for COVID-19 Local Preparedness

Would ac­tivism to en­sure lo­cal hos­pi­tals and health de­part­ments are ad­e­quately prepar­ing for COVID-19 be high-lev­er­age?

COVID-19 may in­fect 40-70 per­cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion, per Har­vard epi­demiol­ogy pro­fes­sor Mark Lip­sitch. The virus kills roughly one in ev­ery one hun­dred peo­ple in­fected. (See this post by some­one who works in biose­cu­rity and this At­lantic ar­ti­cle.)

Hospi­tals and lo­cal health de­part­ments will need to pre­pare for the virus. In the United States, that re­sponse falls to the lo­cal level. Lo­cal health sys­tems have sub­stan­tial work to pre­pare:

The third les­son is to pre­pare health sys­tems for what is to come. That en­tails painstak­ing lo­gis­ti­cal plan­ning. Hospi­tals need sup­plies of gowns, masks, gloves, oxy­gen and drugs. They should already be con­serv­ing them. They will run short of equip­ment, in­clud­ing ven­tila­tors. They need a scheme for how to set aside wards and floors for covid-19 pa­tients, for how to cope if staff fall ill, and for how to choose be­tween pa­tients if they are over­whelmed. By now, this work should have been done.

There will prob­a­bly be a vari­a­tion in pre­pared­ness since there isn’t a cen­tral au­thor­ity to en­sure suffi­cient readi­ness (at least in the United States). Given the virus’ mor­tal­ity and po­ten­tial reach, in­creas­ing lo­cal pre­pared­ness could be a high lev­er­age op­por­tu­nity.