Michelle R. Smith, The Associated Press

Public Health Experts Worry About Boom-Bust Cycle of Support

KHN Original

Congress has poured tens of billions of dollars into public health since last year. While health officials who have juggled bare-bones budgets for years are grateful for the money, they worry it will soon dry up, just as it has after previous crises such as 9/11, SARS and Ebola. Meanwhile, they continue to cope with an exodus from the field amid political pressure and exhaustion that meant 1 in 6 Americans lost their local health department leader.

Pandemic Backlash Jeopardizes Public Health Powers, Leaders

KHN Original

At least 181 public health leaders in 38 states have resigned, retired or been fired amid the turmoil of the pandemic. The departures come as backlash against public health is rising with threats to officials’ personal safety and legislative and legal efforts to strip their governmental public health powers.

Hollowed-Out Public Health System Faces More Cuts Amid Virus

KHN Original

The U.S. public health system has been starved for decades and lacks the resources necessary to confront the worst health crisis in a century. An investigation by The Associated Press and KHN has found that since 2010, spending for state public health departments has dropped by 16% per capita and for local health departments by 18%. At least 38,000 public health jobs have disappeared, leaving a skeletal workforce for what was once viewed as one of the world’s top public health systems. That has left the nation unprepared to deal with a virus that has sickened at least 2.6 million people and killed more than 126,000.