People know what it means to go to the doctor when they get sick, yet many are unaware of a less visible workforce protecting their health before a trip to the doctor is needed. When all is well, public health professionals are largely invisible. Now, amid COVID-19, many people are learning about the essential services public health provides for the first time. But as COVID-19 cases are surging, California’s budget deal signed by the Governor on Monday reduces the state’s current $3.4 billion public health budget to $3.2 billion – a 6.3% decrease. Budget decisions like these severely hinder our ability to respond to and prepare for current and future public health emergencies like COVID-19. This makes no sense.
Over the past decade alone, local and state health departments lost 20% of their workforce, and local health department budgets shrank by as much as 24%. Consider one example: Over the past 15 years, 11 local public health labs closed in California, which hampered our ability to test for COVID-19, a key criterion for safely re-opening businesses, schools, and other gatherings. Almost all funding sources for local health departments have been declining at the same time that public health threats are growing – such as natural disasters, Zika, Ebola and now COVID-19.
Today we released a brief Investing In Our Local Health Departments, jam-packed with data, infographics, and key messaging around the history of public health funding cuts and a call to action for investing in a resilient and robust public health system.
We also created adaptable talking points, graphics, and resources that local health departments and advocates can customize to their local context and use for advocacy.
Download the resources below: