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At last count in the U.S., nearly 200,000 people have died from COVID-19, and nearly 7 million people have been infected. The various measures in place to slow down the pace of transmission have affected the physical and mental health of people, caused job losses, and increased insecurities related to housing and food, according to Guy David, Wharton professor of health care management and professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.
At the same time, “the [weaker] segments of society are less likely to have the means and the space to effectively [practice] social distancing, to effectively have their kids do remote schooling, for themselves to transition their job into the home, and so on,” David said during a recent interview with Wharton Business Daily on Sirius XM. (Listen to the podcast above.)
According to David, the government’s efforts to provide safety nets have been uneven. It has taken action to prevent landlords from evicting people who cannot pay their rent from their homes and apartments, he noted. But policymakers ought to have done something to ensure that people losing jobs continue to have health insurance, he added.
What’s more, the U.S. health care system was caught unawares, and reduced access to tests in the early part of the pandemic pushed up the number of U.S. cases. The enforcement of preventive measures has been inconsistent, with federal and state leaders marching to different tunes. The political leanings of people have also influenced the degree of their adherence to social distancing and wearing of masks, David noted. “There’s a failure of leadership at every level in the U.S., not just the federal level,” David said.
David joined Ezekiel (Zeke) Emanuel, vice provost for global initiatives and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, and other experts for a recent webinar organized by the America-Israel Friendship League, titled “COVID-19: Balancing Healthcare and Economic Policy Interests.” You can view the complete webinar here.