Lessons learned from the pandemic, expert weighs in

May 1, 2023, 8:00 PM | Updated: May 2, 2023, 10:37 am

A person receives a vaccine. Appointments for the updated covid booster are now available....

FILE-- Children as young as five will now be able to receive a booster shot. (Mengshin Lin/Deseret News)

(Mengshin Lin/Deseret News)

Editorial note: This article has been edited to reflect the correct group association for James Lawler. KSL NewsRadio regrets the error.

SALT LAKE CITY — The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest health emergency the United States has experienced in a century. Even as the pandemic drifts away in the rearview mirror, there has been no congressional commission authorized to explore what lessons the country learned from the pandemic.

The Covid Crisis Group is trying to fill that gap. Along with others, James Lawler sought to find out for themselves what went right and what went wrong during the pandemic. Lawler is a former staff member of the Homeland Security Council and National Security Council.

He is currently the director of International Programs and Innovation at the Global Center for Health Security at the University of Nebraska.

Lawler joined Inside Sources host Boyd Matheson on Monday to discuss the group’s book “Lessons from the Covid War.”

Lessons learned from the pandemic

Matheson began the conversation with a question. “What do we actually need to learn so that we can move forward in a positive way,” he asked.

Lawler said the Covid Crisis Group started off as a precursor to what they thought would be a full commission that would look into the nation’s handling of the pandemic. The full commission was never formed. However, Lawler said the group learned so much in two years they examined the pandemic that they felt they needed to share their findings. 

“There are a number of lessons to be learned from our performance to date,” Lawler said. “… I would say there’s a few central themes that I would highlight that are really important.”

At the top of the list is the nation’s ability to govern.

“And that’s not from a political perspective,” Lawler said. “It’s really the mechanics of government and how the government acts as a collective doer, an implementer to execute on priorities that we have.”

America not the problem-solver it once was

Lawler said America has previously been looked upon as a problem-solver. He used examples like America being the first to send a man to the moon and rebuilding Europe after World War II.

“And to some degree, I think we’ve lost that capability over the last couple of decades,” he said. 

Lawler said the second lesson learned from the pandemic deals with health institutions. He said the structure currently in place for responding to a health crisis was built for a different time.

“Certainly, not the 21st century,” he said.

The final lesson Lawler discussed is the lack of effective communication with the public.

“And really how we were unable to counteract the massive wave of misinformation and disinformation that so undermined our response,” he said. 

Listen to the entire segment.


Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard on weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

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