In the aftermath of COVID-19, the World Health Organization is now imploring national healthcare industries to better prepare for the next pandemic. Citing climate change, rapid deforestation, and increasing globalization, the WHO claims it is a matter of when, not if, the next global pandemic will strike. Now, states are sounding the alarm. Today, they lack the resources to adequately control another medical emergency.

13 state health departments and 11 hospital associations recently told ABC News that widespread staffing shortages and reduced budgets pose a serious threat to medical professionals’ ability to swiftly respond to future threats. In fact, the American Hospital Association has already called on lawmakers to reauthorize the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act to strengthen the Strategic National Stockpile to support an industry still recovering from COVID-19.

Professionals specifically touched on the threat posed by the nursing shortage, discussing the vicious cycle of shortages leading to increased labor costs, as rapid turnover drives higher costs to hire and recruit new staff.

The state of staffing in American hospitals is alarming. McKinsey estimates that by 2025, the U.S. will experience a shortage of up to 450,000 nurses—up to 20% of the entire workforce. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. will require more than 203,000 new RNs every year through 2026 to fully rehabilitate the sector.

Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, discussed the need for foreign educated nurses to fill in gaps in care at this time, saying “Now, nurses and others are leaving health care altogether, to companies that have signing bonuses and very high hourly rates…hospitals are in a position where the only way we’re going to have an adequate nursing force is to work with the nurse traveler agencies.”

The nursing shortage poses an increasingly dire threat to our healthcare system. There’s no quick fix to this massive issue, but foreign-educated nurses offer a clear solution to fill gaps in care. Read more from ABC News here.