How Community and Unity Can Help Americans Survive

Published in: Journal of General Internal Medicine (2020). doi: 10.1007/s11606-020-05829-8

Posted on RAND.org on April 21, 2020

by Robert H. Brook, C. Jason Wang, Neil S. Wenger

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By now, most of the world knows about COVID-19 and has seen haunting images of its impact from China and Italy. The virus is in the USA and Americans are justifiably frightened. Health professionals fear the prospect of being overwhelmed with sick people and forced to make life and death decisions due to inadequate resources. People hope that social distancing, isolation of virus-positive people, perhaps even the summer heat, or the emergence of a new drug will help to contain the virus and prevent an even more deadly health calamity. But when faced with an escalating pandemic, rapid preparation is required, converting from an ethic of individualism to a communitarian ethic in which everyone benefits. What follows are some specific tasks that could be done now to arm us for the fight, including steps by health care providers, government, business, and individuals.

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