Editorial: We need a COVID postmortem so we do better with the next plague

Editorial: We need a COVID postmortem so we do better with the next plague (via @latimesopinion)

7/25/2021 1:33:00 PM

Editorial: We need a COVID postmortem so we do better with the next plague (via latimesopinion)

The U.S. needs a clear-eyed examination of the ways the pandemic response was bungled. California, which had its own missteps, should do the same.

It may seem like an inopportune time for such a request, withcongressional leaders still fightingover the composition of a commission to examine the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, but it’s imperative that work begin now before urgency and memories wane.

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The commission should be structured so that it doesn’t dwell on who did — or didn’t — do what, or its eventual report will become fodder to feed the culture war rather than the sober and trusted guidebook that we need. This was a crisis without recent historical precedent, and it’s fair to say there is enough blame to spread from one end of the United States to the other.

Mistakes were made, beginning with the failure to take the emerging threat to the nation seriously, and they must be properly identified and assessed. It will be equally important to note the pandemic success stories, as rare as they may be, such as Operation Warp Speed. Throwing billions of dollars of public money at private companies to help speed development of a vaccine was a gamble, but it paid off in a big way. headtopics.com

One of the most important questions for the future commission to ponder is who or what agency is best equipped to take charge in a public health emergency, and how that leadership should manifest itself. All the failures — from the debacle of testing during the early days to the chronic shortages of safety and medical equipment — were caused, at least in part, by a leadership vacuum.

A national postmortem is essential to our future security. But it’s just as important for states to do their own self-examination, as so much of the pandemic response was left to them.To that end, Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature should commit to establishing and supporting an independent and bipartisan COVID commission that would investigate how the pandemic was handled in California. In many ways, California was a leader among the states, enacting the first stay-at-home order in the nation (a result of urging, Lewis writes, by the same group of rogue medical professionals he lionizes in his book), but it also stumbled at times, notably in data collection and public communication.

Newsom and the Democratic-controlled Legislature may balk at the idea of airing the state government’s dirty laundry in public, lest it provide more ammunition to the governor’s critics. But it’s the right thing to do, nevertheless. Besides, it will take months just to seat a commission and get it up and running, and perhaps a year or more for the commission to complete its examination and produce a comprehensive report. At that point, Newsom, if he survives this year’s recall effort, is likely to have either won reelection or not.

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