The US is facing its ‘greatest challenge since World War II’ — and its botched response is a ‘crippling blow to its prestige’: journalist

The US is facing its ‘greatest challenge since World War II’ — and its botched response is a ‘crippling blow to its prestige’: journalist
Airman 1st Class Gloria Carrera (right), 56th Medical Group technician, sanitizes medical equipment following a COVID-19 test on a patient March 23, 2020, at the Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The 56th MDG is administering tests for Luke AFB members who have symptoms of COVID-19 to help diagnose the cases early-on. The 56th MDG is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and working closely with Arizona health officials to minimize the spread of COVID-19 at Luke AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

The coronavirus pandemic is not only a daunting health/safety challenge for the United States — it is also a daunting economic challenge. Journalist Ben White, this week in an article for Politico, describes coronavirus as “the greatest challenge since World War II.” But he laments that the Trump Administration’s response has been “small in scope” and “short on creative solutions” in light of how dire a crisis the U.S. is facing.

“The nation needs upward of 30 million tests per week to properly track the virus, health experts say,” White explains. “The country is testing only about 1 million a week now. It could take a public health army of more than 100,000 to track and trace those carrying the virus. There are only a few thousand so far.”

White goes on to note some other ways in which the United States’ response to the pandemic has been woefully inadequate.

“Unemployment benefits — while expanded and enhanced — do not come close to making up lost income for millions of Americans in the way that European nations with robust social safety nets can accomplish,” White warns. “Gaps in the U.S. health care system — an issue of partisan fighting for decades — are now fully exposed. The U.S. Federal Reserve has pledged to inject what could amount to trillions of dollars into the coronavirus response, but it too may need to do more to fight a potentially large rise in mortgage defaults.”

White notes that according to Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley, the U.S. response to coronavirus is hardly that of the “can-do culture” that used to characterize the country.

“The United States was once known for its can-do culture,” White quotes Brinkley as saying. “We built the Panama Canal and we put a man on the moon — and now, we can’t get a swab or a face mask or a gown, and we have no real chain of command. And we have two Americas: a Republican one and a Democratic one, and they won’t collaborate. We are not leading in the pandemic response; we are trailing other countries by a long shot. This is a crippling blow to America’s prestige around the world.”

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.