Billions spent on coronavirus fight, but what happens next?

Coronavirus

Dr. Mysheika W. Roberts, the health commissioner for Columbus Public Health, poses for a portrait in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Public health officials who have juggled bare-bones budgets for years are happy to have the additional money prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet they worry it will soon dry up as the pandemic recedes, continuing a boom-bust funding cycle that has plagued the U.S. public health system for decades. If budgets are slashed again, they warn, that could leave the nation where it was before covid: unprepared for a health crisis. “We need funds that we can depend on year after year,” says Roberts. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

(AP) – Congress has poured tens of billions of dollars into public health since last year, when the coronavirus pandemic was declared.

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 did after previous crises such as the Sept. 11 attacks and the SARS and Ebola outbreaks.

The health commissioner of Columbus, Ohio, says health officials need funds they “can depend on year after year.”

Meanwhile, health officials continue to cope with an exodus from the field amid political pressure and exhaustion that means 1 in 6 Americans lost their local health department leader.

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