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Why We Still Need to Talk About America's Covid Failures

It’s been four years since the first American death from the coronavirus. Four years since we were told that wearing masks—even cloth masks—were essential to keeping us safe. The…

It’s been four years since the first American death from the coronavirus.

Four years since we were told that wearing masks—even cloth masks—were essential to keeping us safe. The same goes for lockdowns and social distancing. Any inconvenience to society was outweighed by the lives saved. 

And remember what President Biden told us after Covid vaccines were rolled out a year later?

The CDC is saying, they have concluded, that fully vaccinated people are at a very, very low risk of getting Covid-19,” Biden said in a Rose Garden press conference.

We now know that so much of what we were told in those years was wrong. (Last week, Anthony Fauci admitted in closed-door congressional testimony that the six-feet apart rule was “likely not based on scientific data.”) And if the guidance wasn’t flat-out wrong, it was certainly debatable. But debate was not only discouraged—it was shut down. Respected dissident scientists were dismissed as fringe scientists. They were deplatformed on social media.

For most of us, all of this seems like a lifetime ago. But the problem is that here we are, four years later; millions of Americans suffered, more than a million died, and it’s not clear we have any better understanding of what exactly went wrong. How was it that our leaders—and our economy—were so brutally underprepared for a global pandemic?

That’s what today’s conversation on Honestly is about.

Guest host Michael Moynihan talks to The Free Press’s own Joe Nocera about his new book, co-authored with Bethany McLean: The Big Fail: What the Pandemic Revealed About Who America Protects and Who It Leaves Behind.

The Big Fail takes a critical look at what the pandemic uncovered about our leaders, our broken trust in government, and the vulnerability of the biggest economy in the world. Nocera also investigates the perverse incentives (and devastating effects) of hospital systems and nursing homes run by private equity firms. All this makes him ask: Does capitalism have its limitations when it comes to healthcare?

Most importantly: Are we able to learn our lesson from the Covid pandemic and do better when the next emergency hits us?

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