An infectious disease expert at University of Chicago Medicine said Thursday that the coronavirus pandemic isn't "a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing" and preparations should be made for future pandemics.
"I'm really worried that five years after this pandemic people are going to be like, 'Well, that's over and we're probably not going to have one for another 100 years,'" Dr. Emily Landon said during a podcast called "COVID 2025: Our World in the Next 5 Years."
Landon, whose speech to residents at the start of the coronavirus pandemic went viral on social media, said zoonoses, or viruses that come from animals and can be transmitted to humans, "are actually increasing in prevalence as we have climate change, and as more and more humans populate the Earth and move into these parts of the planet that we didn't live in before."
Landon said she believes society needs to prepare in advance and not "wait for things to look like they did in Italy or even in New York City" during the coronavirus pandemic.
Among her suggestions were reserve epidemiologists who would assist with contact tracing during the start of an outbreak, better methods for contact tracing and technology for PPE.
"What would be the worst-case scenario?" she said. "If we decided that the real lesson that we were supposed to learn here was that we didn't really need to do any of that stay-at-home stuff because nothing bad happened anyway. And the CDC, we didn't need all those tests, we didn't need all those instructions, and contact tracing. We got along fine without it, so let's just you know, defund these things and not spend so much time on them, then we'll be even less prepared when there's a problem again in the future."
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has repeatedly said the state, and even the country, were ill-prepared for such a pandemic, even testifying before a U.S. House committee earlier this month that "there was no national plan to acquire PPE or testing supplies and as a result people died."
"When the same emergency is crashing down on every state at once that's a national emergency and it requires a national response," he said, adding that "states were forced to play some sort of sick hunger games game show to save the lives of our people."
California lawmakers on Wednesday advanced several bills spurred by the coronavirus, including one designed to stockpile personal protective equipment so the state isn't caught short again.
It would require the state to stockpile a 90-day supply of masks, gloves, gowns and other personal protective equipment to equip all healthcare workers and others deemed essential including those who work in schools, detention facilities and childcare centers.
Hospitals and medical clinics would be required to have their own three-month supply under the bill by Democratic Sen. Richard Pan of Sacramento.
“It buys valuable time," Pan said. "Think about the panic that happened when COVID-19 came about and you saw health care workers wearing even garbage bags to try to protect themselves.”
Still, as some look ahead to future pandemics, many across the country continue to deal with ongoing, and in some cases worsening, coronavirus pandemic.
Most of Illinois' 11 healthcare regions are seeing increases in coronavirus metrics as the state reaches what Pritzker called "a danger point."
Speaking from a county now at a "warning level," Pritzker said "things are not heading in the right direction."
"We do not want the state or any region in the state moving backward so I'm imploring people to follow the guidelines," he said. "We're at a danger point, everybody. pay attention. now is the time to wear your mask properly."
Illinois reported more than 1,700 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, the highest daily total the state has reported so far this month.
With 1,772 new cases in the last 24 hours, the state's total number of cases since the pandemic began rose to 176,896, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. An 18 additional deaths also lift the total number of fatalities to 7,478.
With more than 41,000 tests in the last 24 hours, that puts the state's seven-day rolling positivity rate at 3.8%.