The COVID-19 crisis we are experiencing has been decades in the offing. From 2001 until now the CDC's funding has been cut by a third. Local and state health departments have cut 50,000 jobs and funding by the fed for hospital preparedness and health service has been halved.

The Trump administration disbanded the Medical and Biodefense Preparedness Advisory Group to the NSC. As predicted for years by health experts, this left us vulnerable to a pandemic.

As a nation, we are short on hospital beds, medical equipment and health care personnel. We have about 1 million hospital beds nationwide with about 64,000 ICU units. The majority of these are filled with non-COVID-19 patients.

The well-publicized shortage of ventilators, protective gear and test kits with the labs to process them are the predictable result of a for-profit health care system. You don't carry excess personnel and inventory. It's bad for the bottom line.

The tens of billions we "saved" each year for the past decades have been a false bargain. This episode of viral assault is going to cost us thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.

There will be other potential pandemics in the future. Will we learn from this one and prepare for the next one?

Don Millsap, Auburn