KHN Midwest editor and correspondent Laura Ungar appeared on Spectrum News and Fox 35 Orlando to discuss cuts to Florida’s public health system that have hampered its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
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.
As the nation hollowed out its public health infrastructure for decades, staffing and funding fell faster and further in Florida. Then the coronavirus ran roughshod, infecting more than half a million people and killing thousands.
A review by KHN and the Associated Press finds at least 49 state and local public health leaders have resigned, retired or been fired since April across 23 states. One of the latest departures came Sunday, when California’s public health director was ousted.
The disease intervention specialist at the Prince George’s County Health Department was among at least 20 department employees infected by the coronavirus, union officials say. The outbreak underscores the stark dangers facing the nation’s front-line public health army.
We’re releasing our public health infrastructure data on Github for journalists, researchers and interested readers to use.
As the coronavirus threatens the nation’s public health army, an outbreak in Maryland reflects the tension between serving the community and protecting workers from a deadly disease.
Health departments and other public agencies tasked with protecting the nation from disease-carrying mosquitoes are overstretched amid the coronavirus pandemic — even as the nation is told it’s safest to be outside.
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.
To assess the state of the public health system in the United States, KHN and The Associated Press analyzed data on government spending and staffing at national, state and local levels. Here’s what data we used and how we did it.