Rebuilding

En Español

For science.
Rebuilding doesn’t mean getting back to where we were before the COVID-10 pandemic – it means having the vision to create a better, more inclusive, more just world through public health. Public health infrastructure needs to be rebuilt and reinvested in: less than 3% of U.S. health spending is on public health.1 Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. faces a growing shortage of health care providers.2 Racism is a public health crisis, causing health disparities, including in the rates of COVID-19 diagnoses and deaths.3 The pandemic has illuminated how race, place and income can affect a person’s health, and even survival, in the U.S.4 A lack of investment in maintaining the built environment, such as removing lead pipes from city water, is costing the U.S. money, health and lives.5 And one in four people in the U.S. does not have access to high-speed internet, which can prevent academic and economic achievement.6

For action.
We must build and reinforce public health infrastructure to protect against future public health emergencies. Call for funding essential public health agencies like CDC and HRSA need to protect the public before, during and after national and global health crises. Continue to declare racism as a public health crisis, but also listen to and follow Black, Indigenous and other people of color, who have long led efforts to protect and support their own communities. Work on the state level to remove barriers to voting, such as ID laws and restrictions against returning citizens with prior felony convictions.7 Build back environmental protections that have been removed, with a greater focus on communities of color. Prioritize rebuilding community infrastructure to remove health risks, such as lead pipes.

For health.
When we trust the science and act accordingly, wearing masks and physically distancing, COVID-19 infection rates drop.8 Investing in public health shows better health outcomes and lower health spending overall9 and saves lives – 19,000 from the expansion of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act alone.10 Children with access to high-speed broadband internet have better education and health outcomes.11 Asthma is the third-leading cause of hospitalization for kids in the U.S. Each case costs about $4,000, but every $1 spent on national- and state-level programs saves $71 in asthma-related expenditures.5 We all have a hand in rebuilding for better health and can look to the successes gained, for instance, by organizers of color, who have mobilized their communities for environmental justice12 and historic voter turnout to protect public health.13

For justice.
Black families and rural communities are more likely to be without access to high-speed internet,14 which is no longer a luxury, but a requirement for school and workers who telecommute. COVID-19 does not only take a higher toll on patients of color, but also on providers.15 Supporting those already doing the work within their communities recognizes community members as experts and leaders and builds their power.16 We can create a better, more inclusive, more just world through public health.