If you’re like me, you may have wondered how the novel coronavirus pandemic got so out of hand in the United States–easily one of the wealthiest countries on the planet. In medical school we spend time considering the “Swiss cheese” model of causation, in which layers of policy protective factors at multiple levels are designed to cover the “holes” in one another.

Image credit: wikipedia.com

We are specifically interested in this concept as it pertains to preventing medical error, through a variety of safeguards at the level of the individual, the organization, and the entire system. As a medical student and as a citizen, I would have hoped that the government, media, and extensive healthcare and manufacturing networks of the United States of America would have had more layers in place to handle a catastrophe of this nature, but here we are.

One of my favorite journalists, Johnny Harris, calls on the expertise of Pulitzer prize winning journalist Nicholas Kristof to cover this perplexing topic. The pair uses graphs, timelines, and historical comparison to discuss the epidemiology and policy matters surrounding the handling of COVID-19. Check it out and let me know what you think.


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