Billions have been spent on local, state public health during pandemic. What happens when it’s over?

Wkbt 1920x1080

Congress has poured tens of billions of dollars into state and local public health departments in response to the coronavirus pandemic, paying for masks, contact tracers and education campaigns to persuade people to get vaccinated.

Public health officials who have juggled bare-bones budgets for years are happy to have the additional money. 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 the coronavirus: unprepared for a health crisis.

“We need funds that we can depend on year after year,” said Dr. Mysheika Roberts, the health commissioner of Columbus, Ohio.

When Roberts started in Columbus in 2006, an emergency preparedness grant paid for more than 20 staffers. By the time the coronavirus pandemic hit, it paid for about 10. Relief money that came through last year helped the department staff up its coronavirus response teams. While the funding has helped the city cope with the immediate crisis, Roberts wonders if history will repeat itself.

After the pandemic is over, public health officials across the U.S. fear, they’ll be back to scraping together money from a patchwork of sources to provide basic services to their communities — much like after the Sept. 11 attacks and the SARS and Ebola outbreaks. Read the full story:

Here’s an update on all developments. Scroll or swipe further for in-depth coverage.

  • New Delhi imposed a weeklong lockdown Monday night to prevent the collapse of the Indian capital’s health system, which authorities said had been pushed to its limit amid an explosive surge in coronavirus cases.
  • Half of all adults in the U.S. have received at least one COVID-19 shot, the government announced Sunday, marking another milestone in the nation’s largest-ever vaccination campaign but leaving more work to do to convince skeptical Americans to roll up their sleeves.
  • The Biden administration on Monday will allocate $150 million from the American Rescue Plan to community-based health care providers across the nation to help boost their coronavirus response for underserved communities and vulnerable populations, senior White House Covid-19 response adviser Andy Slavitt said Monday.
  • Sales are steadily improving at Coca-Cola Co. as vaccinations allow for the opening of restaurants and offices in many regions globally.

For more summaries and full reports, please select from the articles below. Scroll further for the latest virus numbers.

Virus by the numbers