Local and public health officials are resigning, retiring or being fired in what experts say is the biggest departure in American history, the Associated Press reported
Over 180 state and local public health officials across 38 states have left their positions since April 1, an ongoing AP and Kaiser Health News investigation found. Several lower-level staff members have also reportedly left the field.
“I’ve never seen or studied a pandemic that has been as politicized, as vitriolic and as challenged as this one, and I’ve studied a lot of epidemics,” a medical historian at the University of Michigan, Dr. Howard Markel said, the AP reported.
“All of that has been very demoralizing for the men and women who don’t make a great deal of money, don’t get a lot of fame, but work 24/7,” Markel added, the AP reported.
The epidemic of fired or resigning public health officials is another defining, dreadful feature of the American pandemic response. Adds to the death threats to Tony Fauci and family. https://t.co/qm0qlT5P07 by @MRSmithAP @LaurenWeberHP @AP @APHealthScience
— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) August 10, 2020
Several of the officials reportedly left due to the hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic or due to political backlash, according to the AP. Some of the officials left for more prominent jobs, a few left over health concerns, and others were fired for their inadequate job performance.
Around 40 million Americans live in a community where the local public health department leader has departed amid the ongoing pandemic, the AP reported. High ranking officials in 20 states have abandoned state departments since April 1.
Three state health officials consecutively left the North Dakota public health department since May, the AP reported. (RELATED: US Surpasses 300,000 Coronavirus Deaths)
The departures left the profession lacking leadership, experts say, the AP reported. Several health departments are experiencing the high turnover as the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are set to be distributed.
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