COVID-19 has caused intertwined health and economic crises: the virus threatens the health of millions of Americans, and the resulting economic harm is devastating, especially for working people and families. The burden of these crises has not fallen equally. Communities of color, especially Black and Latinx people, have borne the brunt of the deaths from COVID-19 and levels of unemployment now rivaling those experienced during the Great Depression. Despite asking Americans to make huge sacrifices and stay at home, the Trump Administration has failed to put in place or provide adequate support for essential measures, including testing and contact tracing, that we need to get the virus under control. As we face a continued surge in cases, critically important COVID-era social support mechanisms are set to expire, undermining our health response and leaving vulnerable Americans increasingly exposed to economic ruin. Meanwhile, the virus shows no sign of letting up.
The latest rise in cases, particularly in the South and West, with daily counts higher than at any point during the pandemic thus far, is pushing the US towards the brink of a catastrophe. We have delayed action for too long. Now, the window of opportunity to address COVID-19 may close unless immediate, decisive steps are taken. Existing efforts at testing and contact tracing have proven vastly insufficient due to limited funding, hollowed-out public health capacity, and lack of community trust. At the moment, with the delays in testing continuing nationwide and too many contacts to trace, this most basic tool of epidemic control may be on the verge of collapse.