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.