EDITORIAL: No more delays of investigation into pandemic response

ERICA MILLER/THE DAILY GAZETTE State Department of Health personnel conduct COVID testing at Saratoga Spa State Park in January.

State Department of Health personnel conduct COVID testing at Saratoga Spa State Park in January.

The pandemic seems to be fading from our collective memories, or at least from our collective actions.

The disease is still part of our culture, and people are still getting sick from it, even those who’ve been vaccinated and boosted against it. But we’re now essentially dealing with it and going on with our lives.

Yet there was a time not too long ago when it dominated our existence, separating us from our loved ones, depriving us of our livelihoods, forcing us to cope with our own illnesses and facing the prospect of loved ones becoming severely ill or dying from it.

Since the pandemic started in early 2020, more than 56,300 New Yorkers and more than 1 million Americans have died from it.

Much of the impact of the covid crisis was determined by the actions of government — from the development and distribution of vaccines; to the speed, availability and quality of treatment; to the separation of the sick from the healthy; to the operation of schools and businesses.

It’s vital, then, that we get a full understanding of how the government handled the crisis so that we can learn from the past and protect ourselves in the future.

The longer government takes to evaluate its procedures and actions, and the longer it takes to put new, more effective steps in place to deal with the next crisis, the less we’ll care and the less we’ll be willing to cooperate with any future government mandates.

That’s why it’s imperative that Gov. Kathy Hochul make it a top priority to conduct an independent investigation into the state’s covid response. A group of good-government organizations sent a letter to the governor on May 16 calling for a review of policies, public hearings and a public report.

While the governor indicated a week later a willingness to do all that, we’ve seen no indication that such a review is imminent.

It needs to begin now.

The primary is over. The special session of the Legislature — which she called for today to capitalize on the politics of abortion and gun-control — will be over shortly.

Next up: Get to the bottom of what happened with the state’s covid response.

The economic shutdowns. The strengths and vulnerabilities of the state’s medical and long-term care systems. The failures of the nursing home response and the alternatives available. The collection, preparation and distribution of data, and the speed and transparency with which it’s shared with the public. The roles of the legislative and executive branches in making policy, under both emergency and non-emergency situations.

All of these need to be investigated for how the state handled them, followed by the development of possible solutions, which will need to be vetted and imposed.

The state can’t let covid fatigue among the public absolve it of responsibility for its failures.

And it can’t let the passage of time negate its obligation to correct those failures for the safety and health of the citizens of New York.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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