The Politicization Of Public Health In A Pandemic
On top of financial stressors caused by the pandemic, public health has become a partisan issue. What are the implications of injecting politics into public health responses?
Evidence-based medical advice is subject to political and conspiratorial scrutiny. Masks are a political litmus test. Public health officials are increasingly resigning amid political pushback and threats.
As the U.S. inches closer to its 2020 presidential election, more political figures are taking stances against public health officials' warnings and response efforts. Pressure from politicians to reopen the economy sooner than later led to a spike in cases and hospitalizations in states across the country.
The pandemic has caused an economic crisis, and the understaffed and underpaid public health sector is facing more cuts despite the country's desperate need for care. Even before COVID-19, public health care ranked low on the nation's list of financial priorities.
When and how did the conversation become “politics versus public health”? How could this affect virus containment efforts?
Where is this ideological impact most problematic and what can be done to separate politics from public health responses moving forward?
- Christopher Kulesza, Ph.D., research analyst in the Child Health Policy Program at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University
- Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive of the National Association of County and City Health Officials
- Lauren Weber, reporter for Kaiser Health News
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*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, July 22.