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The time to get ready for the next pandemic is now

The time to get ready for the next pandemic is now

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We're going on six months of trying to deal with the novel coronavirus. This country has been up, and down, but never out.

Every time it has looked like the end is near, we fall back and the virus goes on and on.

After months of being shut down, urged to stay at home, isolating ourselves from one another. It is only natural many of us developed cabin fever, the urge to bursts free from the quarantine and, well, live again. Under pressure from the public and many business owners, several states, including Texas, started to reopen shuttered businesses thoughtfully and with what our leaders were sufficient precautions. Unfortunately, too many of us, from California to Florida, took the relaxing of the quarantine as a sign they could return to life as we once knew it. They jammed bars, shoulder to shoulder, not wearing masks, not keeping a minimum of six feet between them. Other flocked to beaches to soak up some sun -- and, apparently, healthy doses of the COVID-19 virus, which they carried home with them to family and friends.

It quickly became obvious that we weren't careful enough and the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths climbed ever higher. Those numbers thankfully have been coming down in the past few days, but a serious challenge faces America. Schools across the country, shut down since mid-March are starting to reopen. Many districts will be offering live classes, while others will continue to teach all classes online -- at least for the near future. Still others will offer some kind of hybrid system with some courses in person and others online.

Of course, surely everyone agrees children learn better in an actual classroom setting, but a lot of parents and others fear the result of mixing, even with masks and social distancing -- which will be almost impossible to enforce in out schools. Will the COVID-19 numbers spike once more? Perhaps.

Meanwhile, several pharmaceutical companies are rushing to find an effective vaccine against the coronavirus. The federal government, in one of the few things it has done right on the pandemic, has reserved the FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, facilities in College Station to mass-produce the vaccine whenever it is ready to go. That is huge and we congratulate the foresight of all those who worked so hard to open the facility here.

As we look forward to the glorious day when COVID-19 is tamed, we must look back and study what we did right, as well as learn from those things we did wrong.

Somehow, we suspect -- with all the changes we are making to the natural order and with all the research every nation is doing in how best to destroy their enemies -- COVID-19 isn't the last pandemic we will see in the coming years. It is imperative we be far more ready if and when another pandemic develops than we were with the novel coronavirus.

When COVID-19 hit, we learned that the supplies of needed masks, gowns, gloves and the all-important ventilators weren't there or didn't work. Our all-important heroes -- the doctors, nurses, EMTs and so many others critical to fighting the virus -- had to wear masks and gowns multiple times -- which didn't help in the fight against the virus. Hospitals in some parts of the country almost ran out of the ventilators many COVID-19 patients needed. That must not happen again.

We urge President Donald Trump to appoint a commission to study what we did right, what we did wrong and what we can do better the next time. Vice President Mike Pence for the most part did a good job with the current taskforce.

This new commission must include a wide range of views and backgrounds, from medical experts, researchers, frontline doctors, politicians, logistics specialists, insurance representatives, business owners and operators (including small business owners who suffered the most), humanitarian organizations, the military and average citizens. The commission must issue a report on the COVID-19 and what this country needs to do to get ready for another pandemic.

And America must follow the recommendations. We cannot wait weeks and months before swinging into action the next time a pandemic threatens.

It does no good to point fingers at each other and the present and past administrations. We must work together to keep this country -- and all Americans -- safe and strong.

Let's learn from our mistakes and triumphs of this pandemic and vow to do better -- much, much better -- the next time.

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