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Getting ready for the next pandemic COVID-19: Why we need to be more prepared and less scared

George W. Contreras, DrPH(c), MEP, MPH, MS, CEM

Abstract


As of March 2020, we are almost at the three-month mark of COVID-19 with 90,663 reported cases worldwide and 3,124 reported deaths spread over six continents and 67 countries. As of March 3, 2020, the United States announced its six COVID-19-related deaths with 103 confirmed cases spread throughout fourteen states.1 It is important to note, however, that even as the number of reported cases and deaths continue to increase, the COVID-19 overall case fatality rate thus far stands at 3.4 percent. It is important to keep in mind that case fatality rates will also vary by age group and geographic areas. Government leaders and health experts have repeatedly mentioned that it is expected that COVID-19 cases would increase and that it would inevitably reach the United States. I would go even a step further to predict that there will be more confirmed cases and deaths in the United States as well as other parts of the world. Unfortunately and inevitably, by the time this editorial is published, the number of reported cases and deaths will have increased worldwide. If there is one thing to take from all of this information is that we are just at the beginning of the disease progression and more people will get infected and some additional people will also die. As a society, we need not be alarmed simply because it is a novel infectious disease. In the twentieth century, the world has experienced several novel diseases and even pandemic-level diseases. The recent CDC announcement that COVID-19 may reach pandemic levels is not only expected but also scientifically accurate when it comes to normal disease progression. Such announcements should not surprise the public and it should also not instill panic. What the world and the United States need to do is get better prepared. I understand that the fear of the unknown can be daunting but we need to recall that we (the US and the world) have been through similar experiences and survived.

Keywords


COVID-19, pandemic, preparation

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/jem.2020.0461

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