Underfunded And Under Threat

A series examining how the U.S. public health front lines have been left understaffed and ill-prepared to save us from the coronavirus pandemic. The project is a collaboration between KHN and the AP.

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.

Health Officials Worry Nation’s Not Ready for COVID-19 Vaccine

KHN Original

As the nation awaits a vaccine to end the pandemic, local health departments say they lack the staff, money, tools ― and a unified plan ― to distribute, administer and track millions of vaccines, most of which will require two doses. Dozens of doctors, nurses and health officials interviewed by KHN and The Associated Press expressed their concern and frustration over federal shortcomings.