‘COVID-19 exposes shortcomings in California’s preparedness for health threats’

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed shortcomings in California’s preparedness for infrequent but catastrophic public health threats, which have caused serious health and financial consequences, according to a joint study

Published on Wednesday, the study jointly carried out by the Labor Center of the University of California (UC Berkeley) and UC Berkeley School of Public Health, argued that the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE) can largely mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among healthcare workers, reports Xinhua news agency.

The study suggested that at least 35 per cent of the cases were avoidable among the approximately 50,950 COVID-19 cases identified to date among essential workers in California, which equals 9 per cent of all cases in the state.

“We conservatively estimate that at least 20,860 essential worker-related COVID-19 cases may have been avoidable if proper PPE had been available,” the study said, adding it was likely that dozens of deaths among essential workers could have been avoided with proper use of PPE.

As of August 8, the California Department of Public Health reported 26,399 healthcare workers in the state testing positive for COVID-19.

Among the 10,293 COVID-19 fatalities reported by the state, at least 135 were healthcare workers.

The research also unveiled that potential savings from averting high-priced emergency PPE contracts dwarf the budgetary cost of creating a PPE stockpile at normal non-pandemic prices.

Procuring an adequate PPE stockpile in advance at non-pandemic prices would cost only 17 per cent of the projected amount needed to procure it at current pandemic-inflated prices, the research showed.

Maintaining the stockpile would be cheaper than real-time purchases even if it was not needed for another 35 years.

“Even if we were fortunate enough to not need the stockpile for longer than that, it would be a highly financially prudent form of insurance,” the study added.