How Do We Exit The Shutdown? Hire An Army Of Public Health Workers

Written by on April 13, 2020

This story is part of the SoJo Exchange of COVID-19 stories from the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rigorous reporting about responses to social problems.

By Anna Maria Barry-Jester | KAISER HEALTH NEWS

Last month, facing the prospect of overwhelmed hospitals and unchecked spread of the novel coronavirus, seven Bay Area county and city health departments joined forces to become the first region in the nation to pass sweeping regulations ordering millions of people indoors and shuttering the local economy.

It shocked people, but health experts around the country applauded the bold step, which since has been broadly replicated.

They also say it can’t go on forever. And so Bay Area leaders, along with others around the nation, are trying to figure out how we can resume something akin to normal life without triggering a catastrophic wave of illness and death.

The shelter-in-place orders were a sledgehammer response to two colliding realities: a little-understood virus that is proving ferociously deadly in vulnerable populations and a withered public health infrastructure that has made it impossible to track and contain the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

For all the light the new virus has shone on vulnerabilities of the U.S. hospital system — shortfalls in hospital capacity, ventilators and protective gear — what many officials see are the cracks in the foundations of public health.


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