Key demographic trends in fertility, mortality, and migration are responsible for shifts in the overall structure of any population. COVID-19 has affected each of these, with potentially important implications.
While the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic will be sorted through for years, one thing seems very clear: the United States is not ready in a policy or infrastructure or even physical capacity sense to respond to major shocks to its supply chains. This vulnerability stretches across whole sectors of the U.S. economy and is a national security issue in the broadest, but most basic sense.
Vaccine hesitancy appears to be one more hurdle in ending the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC would typically lead a campaign to overcome it, but Americans' trust in the CDC has declined measurably. Health care professionals may be more effective messengers when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines.
Actively seeking out people with lots of contacts for vaccination could bring the epidemic under control much more quickly than vaccinating people at random. Vaccinating just 15% of the population would be enough to crush the epidemic—so long as it was the right 15%.
Unpaid caregivers have been a critical part of the functioning U.S. economy, serving as the backbone of the health system, since long before the pandemic started. Adding them to the American Rescue Plan was an important step, but even after the pandemic is over, their financial security will need long-term protection.
By shoring up all state-run Unemployment Insurance programs equally, Congress set a precedent that it will intervene to raise benefits at no cost to state trust funds. From the states' perspective, why hike taxes on businesses to maintain robust unemployment benefits if Congress will step in when the economy goes south?
Across the United States, climate change is leading to migration. The challenges climate migrants face are not limited to basic needs, such as housing and employment. Rather, displacement may also create trauma. It's imperative that policymakers take mental health into account when devising climate change policies.
During the first wave of COVID-19 lockdowns, European Union states had a 60 percent increase in emergency calls about intimate-partner violence. Amid a protracted second wave that has led to further lockdowns, it may not be too late to provide the funding and legislative changes necessary to ensure domestic violence service providers can offer crucial support.
What might governments do to reduce the risk of future large-scale biological attacks or naturally occurring pandemics? Perhaps now is the right time to revisit the 46-year-old Biological Weapons Convention treaty and make it a better tool against future biological threats.
Audio-only health care visits have been instrumental in maintaining access to care during the pandemic. Despite this, coverage for audio-only visits is likely temporary. Devaluing and prematurely casting off a key telemedicine modality could mean the difference between a needed doctor visit and no visit at all.
Jessica Arana, a designer at RAND, volunteers with the Auntie Sewing Squad, a mask-making effort started by comedian Kristina Wong. Arana first donated to the effort but soon became an organizer focused on minority, immigrant, farmworker, and low-income communities.