The U.S. stumbled badly at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when it came to testing. So few test kits were available, officials couldn’t keep up with the infections emerging across their communities. And with no way of knowing where or how much the virus was spreading in their states, governors were forced to take drastic measures, most notably ordering people to stay home lest individuals with the disease overwhelm the health care system and die in numbers not seen since the 1918 flu pandemic.
The devastating consequences of those decisions will reverberate for years. And everyone agrees that we cannot afford to return to such a dark time. But as COVID-19 roars back in record numbers, that’s starting to seem like a very real, and terrifying, possibility.