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This pandemic has brought us to a tipping point by exacerbating the deep fissures in the health and welfare of our communities, especially those that have been historically marginalized. And now, more than ever, we must come together to make these problems our most pressing business.

Over the past several months, we’ve joined forces with more than 40 public health leaders and other corporate health executives to identify how businesses can lock arms with local, state, and national public health organizations to build stronger, healthier communities. Together, we landed on a roadmap that outlines practical solutions to not only strengthen our immediate response to COVID-19, but help alleviate America’s growing socioeconomic disparities and lift our struggling public health system into the 21st century.

To start, business needs to build and strengthen partnerships with local public health. These partnerships have a clear mutual benefit. Business leaders can lean on trusted local public health experts to craft consistent messaging anchored in science to stem the spread of this virus. Building vaccine confidence and mask acceptance at work leads to families, friends, and neighbors following these important public health safety measures.

Second, we should implement long-term solutions, not just stopgap programs. As business leaders, we need to take a hard look at our advocacy and corporate social responsibility programs and ask ourselves, “Are these ad hoc efforts or will they drive sustainable solutions to socioeconomic inequities in our communities?”

Third, we must support the modernization of our public health system. In its most basic sense, public health is about taking care of our population—tracking emerging threats, monitoring at-risk populations, preventing disease, and promoting wellness within our communities.

As vaccine distribution efforts gain speed and urgency, we all cling to the hope that our world will soon regain some sense of normalcy. But getting back to business as usual should not be our goal.

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Pamela Hymel is chief medical officer of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products

William Kassler is chief medical officer of IBM

Brent Pawlecki is chief health officer of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company

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