The Coronavirus Swamps Local Health Departments, Already Crippled by Cuts
CHICAGO — A widespread failure in the United States to invest in public health has left local and state health departments struggling to respond to the coronavirus outbreak and ill-prepared to face the swelling crisis ahead.
Many health departments are suffering from budget and staffing cuts that date to the Great Recession and have never been fully restored. Public health departments across the country manage a vast but often invisible portfolio of duties, including educating the public about smoking cessation; fighting opioid addictions; convincing the reluctant to vaccinate their babies; and inspecting restaurants and tattoo parlors.
Now, these bare-bones staffs of medical and administrative workers are trying to answer a sudden rush of demands — taking phone calls from frightened residents, quarantining people who may be infected, and tracing the known contacts and whereabouts of the ill — that accompany a …continued .
[Source: New York Times]