COVID-19 Upends Pandemic Plan
COVID-19 quickly spread worldwide, with over 113,000 deaths in the United States by June 2020. Governments at all levels in this nation responded. This analysis starts with a basic question: How did prior planning for pandemics shape responses? A second question emerges: why were data systems inadequate? Expectations, policies, and procedures focused on addressing influenza pandemics shaped responses to COVID-19. Crippled by inadequate data, federal experts did not fully understand likely impacts of COVID-19 until early March. Planned public health processes were overwhelmed by a surge in infections and deaths. Decision making planned to be responses by experts moved to elected officials. Needed data were provided by sources outside government. Governors in 42 states issued stay-at-home orders, causing severe dislocations in the economy and society at a scale never experienced before as the result of deliberate public policy choices. Possible improvements for the future are discussed.
American Review of Public Administration
John Kirlin, COVID-19 Upends Pandemic Plan, 50 AM. REV. PUB. ADMIN. 467 (2020).