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June 12, 2020

2020—A Year That Will Be Remembered

Author Affiliations
  • 1Editor in Chief, JAMA
JAMA. 2020;324(3):245. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.11308

2020 may be a transformative year of the 21st century. Like 1776, 1865, 1941, 1963, 1968, and 2001, it is a year that will be written about, taught in school, and become part of the collective memory of the people who lived through it. A pandemic, massive unemployment, unmeasurable morbidity yet to be realized, 55 million children out of school, mayors and governors making major health care decisions, and nationwide protests focused on the unrelenting and unremitting pain of racism have already occurred. 2020 has the potential to be a transformative year, one leading to fundamental change in the fabric of society—only time will tell.1,2

JAMA is committed “To promote the science and art of medicine and the betterment of the public health.” That mission statement is meant to imply that journal content should include science and opinion of issues affecting human health. Translational research, clinical trials, observational cohort studies, and clinical reviews, as well as narrative medicine, the arts and sciences, and opinion fill the pages of JAMA every week.

The Viewpoints by Metzl et al3 and by Dowling and Kelly4 were written prior to the nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd. The Viewpoints by Berwick5 and by Galea and Abdalla6 were written afterward. But all 4 have a common theme: they reflect the tumultuous events of 2020 that have occurred thus far and suggest that the traditional lane of medicine must be much wider if indeed medicine, as Berwick emphasizes, embraces a broader sense of itself. “Healers are called to heal. When the fabric of communities upon which health depends is torn, then healers are called to mend it.”5

The confluence of events and their immediate consequences during the first half of 2020 have challenged society, government, and medicine in profound and perhaps unprecedented ways. The effectiveness of responses and the fundamental changes that must be catalyzed by these events will determine whether 2020 will truly be viewed as the transformative year for the health and well-being of the nation.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Howard Bauchner, MD, Editor in Chief, JAMA (howard.bauchner@jamanetwork.org).

Published Online: June 12, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.11308

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

Berwick  DM.  Choices for the “new normal”.   JAMA. 2020;323(21):2125-2126. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.6949PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Coronavirus Q&A: former Utah Governor and HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt. April 8, 2020. Accessed June 10, 2020. https://edhub.ama-assn.org/jn-learning/video-player/18433518
Metzl  JM, Maybank  A, De Maio  F.  Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic: the need for a structurally competent health care system.   JAMA. Published online June 4, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.9289PubMedGoogle Scholar
Dowling  MK, Kelly  RL.  Policy solutions for reversing the color-blind public health response to COVID-19 in the US.   JAMA. Published online June 4, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.10531PubMedGoogle Scholar
Berwick  DM.  The moral determinants of health.   JAMA. Published online June 12, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.11129Google Scholar
Galea  S, Abdalla  SM.  COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment, and civil unrest: underlying deep racial and socioeconomic divides.   JAMA. Published online June 12, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.11132Google Scholar