OPINIONS Observer: US 'lying flat' in pandemic irresponsible for people and world


Observer: US 'lying flat' in pandemic irresponsible for people and world

By Ya Xin | People's Daily app

21:31, January 12, 2022

A day after the US reported record-breaking 1.35 million new COVID-19 cases on Monday, Washington expressed confidence that the US was "on the right track" to fight the pandemic.

Facing such a dreadful infections number, the US government still defended its poor pandemic response. The reaction came as no surprise. The US has always lacked self-reflection and seriousness in its COVID policies since the pandemic began.

In fact, the US has turned into a total pandemic "lie-flatter." The country has been handling the pandemic with little resolve to take control and weak COVID policies. It exposed its irresponsibility and incompetence for protecting lives and became one of the biggest loopholes in the global pandemic fight.

The US public health system has been overwhelmed again with the prevalence of the Omicron variant. The country is averaging 700,000 new cases per day, far more than at any previous point in the pandemic. American hospitals are overloaded and understaffed, and child hospitalization rates hit record highs. What's worse, due to the shortfall in tests and the failure of people who did at-home tests to report positive results, the country's current tally is viewed as an undercount of the actual infections.

Along with a broken medical system is a political system in crisis. When running out of solutions to combat the pandemic, the federal government intended to shift responsibility to local authorities, many of whom have already been stuck in chaos. US governors were told in a December meeting that "there is no federal solution" and "this gets solved at a state level." Such buck-passing among different levels of government will only let American people bear the deadly consequences.

After two years into the pandemic, the US still failed to impose a unified and consistent national response to COVID. The country is debating over masks and vaccines forever. Since the spread of the highly-contagious Delta and Omicron variants, the US CDC has reversed its guidance for masks several times. The CDC has even cut the isolation time for people testing positive from 10 days to five, amid a spike in hospitalizations spurred by Omicron. The delays and flip-flops of COVID policies seem to become normalized in the US, leaving millions vulnerable to the virus.

In the fast-moving pandemic, it is unrealistic to wait for "herd immunity" to get the world back to normal. Effectively containing virus spread and protecting people's lives should be the foundation of economic and societal normalizing. Some people in the US are busy questioning China's zero-tolerance approach, which has proved to be effective and supported among Chinese people, but forget to scrutinize and improve the problematic American way.

As the pandemic enters its third year, it should be realized that the virus cannot be defeated without arduous efforts, and "lying flat" is never the way to stop further tragedies in the global health crisis. The US mishandling of the pandemic has already led to countless unnecessary deaths. If it continues such an attitude to battle the virus, the giant pandemic "lie-flatter" may cause unbearable losses for its people and the world.

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