As the country careens toward a presidential election in the midst of a raging pandemic, the dueling headlines on public health and politics are a stark indication that no matter who wins in November, this election will have profound, far-reaching consequences for your physical health and well-being. All this week, Elemental is running a series of stories detailing what’s at stake, from insurance coverage to plans for a pandemic still in progress. Here’s what you should know about the implications of the election on Covid-19.
The United States leads the world in Covid-19 diagnoses, with confirmed cases now nearing 8 million, largely due to a catastrophic failure of the nation’s health system to “quickly identify and control the spread of the novel coronavirus,” wrote David Blumenthal, MD, and a team of co-authors from the Commonwealth Fund, a health research nonprofit, in the New England Journal of Medicine. “The United States did not make testing widely available early in the pandemic, was late to impose physical-distancing guidelines, and has still not implemented either as widely as needed.”
The country’s pandemic response is tied to its politics. An August poll from the Pew Research Center found that health care is the second-most important issue to voters, and more than 60% of respondents said the coronavirus outbreak will heavily influence their vote.
Despite contracting the virus himself in October, President Donald Trump hasn’t instituted a national testing or contact tracing plan, though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did deliver a strategic testing plan to Congress in May. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, has pledged, if elected, to establish a Pandemic Testing Board and a National Contact Tracing Workforce through a proposed 100,000-person Public Health Jobs Corp program.