Hollowed out public health system faces more cuts amid virus


Jennifer Gottschalk, environmental health supervisor of the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, retrieves a file in Toledo, Ohio, on Wednesday, June 24, 2020. She says the job is wearing on her. She has worked for months with hardly a day off. So many lab reports on COVID-19 cases came in that the office fax machine broke. And she fields countless angry phone calls amid community backlash over coronavirus restrictions. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The U.S. public health system has been starved for decades and it lacks the resources 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 by 18% for local health departments.

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.

It’s left the U.S. unprepared to deal with a virus that’s sickened at least 2.4 million people and killed more than 124,000.

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