When, in 50 or 100 years, a historian or medical student looks back at the sequence of the COVID-19 epidemic of 2020-2022, the timeline will be deceptively linear: a beginning, a middle and an end that ends. but never really stops.

The 2122 student will see a column of corresponding dates and milestones, as well as patterns kept in charts from weekly and monthly reports. There will be the one and two year comparisons of cases, hospitalizations and deaths. In the distant future, it might look like a well-crafted novel, starting with small alarms and growing premonitions, followed by universal calamity until science heroes reduce the viral enemy to a foreshadowing of future uncertainties. .

The 2,072 Watchers, however, will include people who have lived through the pandemic, and they will know that a timeline flattens the real story and that a novel imposes an artificial order. Neither captures the race we are on, which will soon enter its third year.

The pandemic has been marked by sudden reversals, false starts and educated guesswork. Who would have expected, for example, that the high point of rapidly developed vaccines would meet the low point of resistance from so many Americans? And two years later, we are a country that didn’t have enough tests to give out when it became clear that testing was the key to dealing with so many unvaccinated people. Long after the country could have manufactured large quantities of the most effective masks, types N95 and KN95, there is not enough to meet the promised deliveries.

Realizing that COVID is going to outlast any of us requires long-term planning, storage and distribution of supplies and equipment that would fight the next wave or the next new pandemic. The United States used to have such a policy, but it was ignored and its funding diverted. Now that the first major pandemic in our lives has shown what it’s like to not be prepared, we need to create a better system for the next cycle, whenever it presents itself.

Much has been learned; now the task is to institutionalize this knowledge so that it does not have to be rediscovered.

  • Follow the lead of science. Since it became known that the omicron variant is less deadly but more contagious than previous versions, public health officials and the government have rewritten some guidelines. The value of contact tracing in schools, for example, has diminished with the vaccination of students and staff. There are more cases, but most compare to what one would expect from the flu we’ve been living with since 1918.
  • Be prepared on all levels. Fly it only in truly unpredictable circumstances. We agree with President Biden that states can and should manage the equipment and personnel for their COVID responses, but that means 50 different jurisdictions are at the end of the supply pipeline for federal aid and competing for more. other sources. Frankly, the Lamont administration, which has consistently earned high marks for its handling of the pandemic, could have lost a lot of its earned credibility with the mess of the announced distribution of home tests and masks. The municipalities have made the most of what is sent to them and have tried to distribute it fairly and quickly.
  • Integrate lessons learned. The need to give tired healthcare workers a break, the critical importance of keeping schools open, the mental health crises that stem from isolation must all influence planning with an emergency we would not have experienced before. of having learned it the hard way. Continue to seek advice from experts in each area and make sure they get to know and listen to each other.

The worst failure of this long struggle would be not to learn from it.

The Day’s Editorial Board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and meets weekly to formulate editorial perspectives. It is made up of President and Editor Tim Dwyer, Editor-in-Chief Izaskun E. Larrañeta, Editor Erica Moser and the retired Associate Editor. Lisa McGinley. However, only the editor and the editor of the editorial page are responsible for the preparation of editorial notices. The board operates independently of the Day newsroom.