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March 30, 2021
Early View Perspective COVID-19 Commercial determinants of health
May CI Van Schalkwyk
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The United States finds itself amid three concurrent and interrelated crises. First, at the time of writing, the United States has reported more than 27 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 500,000 Americans have lost their lives. Second, in part as a consequence of the physical distancing measures enacted to slow the spread of the pandemic, the United States has faced record unemployment, a rise in the number of Americans unable to afford medical insurance, an end to federal support measures, and an uncertain economic outlook. According to the US Department of Labor, more than 50 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since the COVID-19 pandemic started; more than 10 million Americans remain on state unemployment benefits. Third, the country is still contending with how to respond to mass civil protests in 2020 unlike any seen in half a century, triggered by the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis. This civil unrest reflects centuries of structural racism and has brought unprecedented attention to this problem.
In each of these three concurrent crises, the pandemic, ongoing large-scale unemployment, and civil protests, the US federal response has been criticized as being delayed and poorly coordinated, involving downplaying the threat posed by the pandemic and building on longer-term failures by previous administrations to make investments in public goods that may have facilitated a more robust and effective collective response.
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The Milbank Quarterly’s multidisciplinary approach and commitment to applying the best empirical research to practical policymaking offers in-depth assessments of the social, economic, political, historical, legal, and ethical dimensions of health and health care policy.