What COVID-19 Exposed About Getting Sick in America—and the Path Forward

A look at where we are a year into the pandemic—and where we need to go.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic. Though the US is currently in a much better spot one year later, with the approval of three vaccines, many of us still feel like life is stuck on pause. By this point, we've mostly adapted to a new normal—six-foot physical separation, mask-wearing, plexiglass dividers, social bubbles, virtual appointments, and all the other COVID-19 adaptations that weren't yet quotidian a year ago.

But something else is happening a year into a public health crisis no one could see coming: mass awareness of what it's like to get sick in America. The US medical system always had its flaws, of course, such as overtaxed workers, a lack of investment in mental health, and shakier access to care for those who struggle on the margins. Now it seems that acknowledgment is turning into action. Some aspects of the system, like mental health protections for health care professionals, have a long runway for improvement. But other initiatives, such as closing gaps in care for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous Americans, are showing slow but promising signs of progress. The articles in this 6-part spotlight cover the cracks in our medical system COVID brought to light, and take a look into a reimagined future where health care works better for all.

READ: How COVID Opened The Nation's Eyes to Racial Disparities in Health Care — and the Path Forward

READ: Will the COVID Pandemic Finally Convince Us to Take the Connection Between Physical and Mental Health Seriously?

READ: Telehealth Has Radically Changed the Way We Go to the Doctor — and We Have the Pandemic to Thank for That

READ: People Seeking Drug Treatment Weren't Ready for the Pandemic — Here's What We Learned About Relapse and Recovery

READ: Working in Health Care Has Always Been Traumatic and Discouraging — It Took COVID to Expose These Cracks

READ: The People Most at Risk for COVID Distrust the Medical System Most — Here's How to Fix That

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