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The Federal Research Enterprise and COVID-19

RAND 2020.05.06
As we witness on a daily basis, we are still in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The global tally of confirmed cases and deaths from the novel coronavirus―the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2―continues to grow, and the disease continues to spread to previously uninfected parts of the globe. COVID-19 has spread to over 200 countries, causing over 3 million confirmed cases and more than 200,000 deaths worldwide, yet the progression of the disease shows little sign that the worst is over. Early estimates from a study done by the Imperial College of London highlighted that the United States could suffer 2.2 million deaths, assuming no interventions.3 A report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated potential deaths of 200,000 to 1.7million Americans without intervention. These dire estimates will likely not come to pass, as social distancing; home quarantine; closures of schools universities, and businesses; and case isolation have flattened the curve of viral spread in the United States.Despite these assessments, the federal response has been slow, inconsistent, and has deservedly become a target of criticism. One former senior emergency management coordinator for the City of Chicago summed up the federal response, stating, “Let’s be clear: the federal government has failed. If we maintain the status quo, the cavalry is not coming. Pandemic prevention efforts were ineffective. Pandemic preparedness efforts were ineffective. Pandemic coordination efforts were ineffective.”

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