Your Nov. 30 editorial, “Our View: New COVID variant could be the new normal,” argues that mutations such as delta and omicron are likely to continue to develop until global immunization is reached and “COVID is limited to small local outbreaks that can be isolated and controlled.” From that premise, you conclude that “we know from experience what to do about it”: more vaccines, more masking, more social distancing and all it implies for school, work and family.

Dr. Matthew Payne supervises his colleagues at Stillwater Medical Center in Stillwater, Okla., as they intubate a critically ill COVID patient Sept. 17. Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post

I’m in favor of these interventions, but experience (specifically, 5 million global deaths) tells us that is not enough. That view requires an abundance of self-deception about human nature and the possibilities of collective action. In addition to personal responsibility and social policy, we need to recognize the need for institutional change. In an extended COVID era, health care – and the way we fund it – must adapt.

We can’t perpetually cancel non-emergency surgeries because our ICUs are full. We can’t countenance the burnout-related resignations of thousands of health care workers because hospitals are understaffed and overburdened. As a nation, we’ve got to face facts: COVID-19 has created a new normal, and our current levels of investment in health care isn’t going to cut it. We need more doctors, nurses, lab techs and local facilities to care for our stricken communities and our most vulnerable citizens.

John Beaudoin

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