GAO Looks at the Past for Coronavirus Lessons

What can past public health disasters and natural disasters tell us about the coronavirus? A new blog post from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) tackles this question with a compilation of past reports and congressional testimonies covering several similar public health challenges and emergency federal aid packages.

One report discusses the seven strains of coronavirus that are known to cause illness in humans—including COVID-19. It’s a primer on how coronaviruses work, diagnostics (as of February) and research on vaccines and treatments.

Another GAO report from 2018 outlines the nation’s plan to prepare for threats like COVID-19, while recent GAO testimony explores how well the strategy has worked so far.

The blog also includes a link to a podcast from earlier this month on federal coordination related to pandemic response.

In addition, GAO looks back at a report assessing disaster relief efforts following the catastrophic Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was the lead agency for coordinating federal efforts for the public health emergency response then—and now with the coronavirus outbreak. In its September 2019 report, GAO made seven recommendations, including ensuring adequate HHS staffing. As the union proudly representing federal employees at eight HHS operating divisions, NTEU understands the critically important public health mission of HHS and continues to fight for adequate staffing and resources for the agency.

Read the blog post here