Straining the System: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Preparedness for Concomitant Disasters

Nathaniel Smith, MD, MPH; Michael Fraser, PhD, MS


Am J Public Health. 2020;110(5):648-649. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Just a few weeks before the first confirmed case of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was reported in the United States, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a bold promise to the nation: the agency will use its scientific expertise to bring a new level of preparedness in the United States and global health security against current and growing threats, finally eliminate certain diseases, and bring an end to the devastation of epidemics.[1] The current outbreak of COVID-19 reminds us how urgent this promise is and just how critical it is to continue to sustain and strengthen our nation's public health infrastructure. The unprecedented pace of the public health response to COVID-19 has only been possible because of prior investments in public health preparedness. To accelerate our pace and meet the challenges of current and future health threats, we must advance our world-class data and analytics capabilities; maintain and expand our state-of-the-art public health laboratory capacity; continue building a workforce of trusted, expert, public health professionals; sustain our capacity to rapidly respond to outbreaks at their source; and assure a strong global and domestic preparedness capacity.