Billions spent on fighting coronavirus, but what happens next in public health? | national news

Billions spent on fighting coronavirus, but what happens next in public health?  |  national news

Source In Ohio, the computer system used to report cases to the state predates the invention of the iPhone. State officials had said for years they wanted to upgrade it, but they lacked the money and the political will. Many departments across the country have relied on fax machines to report COVID-19 cases.

“I worry at the end of this we’re going to hire up a bunch of contact tracers — and then lay them off soon thereafter,” Castrucci said. “We are continuing to kind of go from disaster to disaster without ever talking about the actual infrastructure.” Brian Castrucci, CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation, which advocates for public health, calls Congress’ giant influx of cash in response to the crisis “wallpaper and drapes” because it doesn’t restore public health’s crumbling foundation.

Castrucci and others say they need dependable money for high-skill professionals, such as epidemiologists — data-driven disease detectives — and for technology upgrades that would help track outbreaks and get information to the public. Compounding those losses, the coronavirus pandemic has prompted an exodus of public health officials because of harassment, political pressure and exhaustion. A yearlong analysis by the AP and KHN found at least 248 leaders of state and local health departments resigned, retired or were fired between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. Nearly 1 in 6 Americans lost a local public health leader during the pandemic. Experts say it is the largest exodus of public health leaders in American history.

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