Between 2009 and 2019, there were 60.8 million cases of H1N1 in the United States and 12,469 deaths, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In about half that time, there have been 1,675,532 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States, resulting in 98,717 deaths.
Why wasn’t the U.S. more prepared?
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NPR reports that under the Obama administration, the federal government began working on regulations mandating the health care industry prepare for an airborne infectious disease pandemic. But federal records show the Trump administration stopped work on those regulations, part of a larger effort to make good on a campaign promise to cut down on federal regulations.
“If that rule had gone into effect, then every hospital, every nursing home would essentially have to have a plan where they made sure they had enough respirators and they were prepared for this sort of pandemic,” David Michaels, former head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), told NPR.
The findings were published a few hours after President Trump criticized presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in a tweet over the handling of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.
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While Biden, who was vice president of the time, did play a role in the Obama administration’s response to the pandemic, he was not charged with leading it. Current Vice President Pence has been named head of the White House’s coronavirus task force.
Democrats in Congress attempted to pass a bill that would implement the proposed infectious disease regulations as emergency measures, but it was blocked by the Senate. NPR reported that Loren Sweatt, the current head of OSHA, defended the White House’s opposition of additional regulation, arguing current rules are sufficient.
“We have mandatory standards related to personal protective equipment and bloodborne pathogens and sanitation standards,” Sweatt said in a recording provided to NPR. “We have existing standards that can address this area.”
BREAKING NEWS ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
WHO: THERE’S NO EVIDENCE WEARING A MASK WILL PROTECT YOU FROM CORONAVIRUS
FAUCI PREDICTS ANOTHER CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK IN THE FALL WITH A ‘VERY DIFFERENT’ OUTCOME
MORE THAN 1000 TEST POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS AT TYSON MEAT PLANT THE DAY IT REOPENS
TEXAS REPORTS SINGLE-DAY HIGH IN CORONAVIRUS DEATHS TWO WEEKS AFTER REOPENING