Nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, public health practitioners continue to feel the burden of an under-resourced public health infrastructure. During a recent appearance on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, Brian Castrucci, president and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation, said, “Public health professionals have thrown everything that they have at this virus and at the response. The problem is that we did not give them a whole lot to throw.”

Saying that a stronger public health infrastructure could have saved more lives, Dr. Castrucci said, “We need to reorganize our spending and make sure we protect the nation against the most challenging threats — and right now, that is emerging viruses.” This will require strengthening partnerships across sectors, effectively coordinating with the federal government, and modernizing the public health system, he said.

Dr. Castrucci said that even after the pandemic ends, we will still have serious vulnerabilities – including the chronic underfunding of the public health system and systemic injustice. “If we don’t address those things through policy change,” he said, “we will remain very vulnerable. Everyone talks about getting the vaccine and getting back to normal, but getting back to normal is a normal where we were vulnerable to this kind of devastation.”

Dr. Castrucci also discussed a series of national polls de Beaumont has conducted with pollster Frank Luntz that has revealed why people are concerned about the COVID vaccines and language that can help overcome those concerns. For example, the polls show that positive language works better than negative language. “Don’t talk about the things that will happen if you do not take the vaccine, talk about the things that will happen if you take it,” he said. He added that normalizing concerns and engaging in thoughtful conversation can be useful in tamping down on the spread of misinformation. A non-judgmental question he said can go a a long way: “I understand you have concerns about the vaccine. What questions can I answer for you?”

See short clips of the interview below.

The role under-resourced public health professionals have played:


What we’ve learned about preparedness in responding to a pandemic:

Why getting back to “normal” isn’t good enough:

Watch the full interview with Greta Brawner on C-SPAN.

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