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Contact: Media Relations
As we honor all American workers on Labor Day, public health professionals deserve special recognition for continuing to safeguard us all during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Public health workers’ efforts, always crucial, are now being magnified with COVID-19, and they are laboring tirelessly and often at high personal risk,” says Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA. “They have been on the front lines of this pandemic from day one, and they continue to work in the face of shortages of lifesaving protective gear and a lack of clear, national leadership.”
Already stretched thin due to longstanding funding shortages and cutbacks, the public health workforce has been called into action like never before to respond to COVID-19. Many have been in crisis mode for all of 2020, working long hours and often with few resources.
They are coordinating and administering COVID-19 tests, tracking and investigating the virus’ spread, helping people navigate the newly expanded world of telehealth, educating the public about reducing disease risk, supporting schools and more. This is at a time when the public health workforce has lost more than 40,000 positions since 2008 and the country’s per capita public health spending remains at less than 3% of all health expenditures.
APHA continues to press for expanding the public health workforce and more federal funding for public health, especially for state and local health departments, who are working feverishly not only to fight COVID-19 but to respond to every emergency we face. Public health focuses on the health of the entire population, and those front-line workers are needed now more than ever.
“They are national heroes, there’s no doubt about that,” Benjamin said. “Everyone working in public health deserves our respect, admiration and thanks.”
As we celebrate Labor Day this year, let us be thankful and mindful of what public health workers have done, and continue to do every day to keep us safe. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they are helping us overcome this crisis a day at a time.
The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a nearly 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at www.apha.org.