The Editor’s Podcast: Developing a National Strategy to Combat COVID-19

by Lloyd F. Novick, MD, MPH

The Editor’s Podcast with Dr. Lloyd F. Novick offers a closer look at the latest articles published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, as well as discussions with public health leaders on related topics.

In this episode of The Editor’s Podcast, I have the pleasure of speaking with the guest editors of a new supplemental issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. COVID-19 and Public Health: Looking Back, Moving Forward is a collection of 18 articles that review our national response to the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 viral pandemic. The supplement is sponsored by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC), and the de Beaumont Foundation.

Michael Fraser, CEO of ASTHO; Chrissie Juliano, Executive Director of BCHC; and Brian Castrucci, CEO of de Beaumont join me for a conversation centered on developing a coherent national strategy to combat COVID-19.

Notable Highlights from Our Conversation

“Strategy to me doesn’t mean being busy doing things. Strategy means working toward a common goal, and the common goal was unclear. The messaging on how we were going to get out of this pandemic was unclear. The guidance to states was mixed. The political leadership that sets vision and leads strategy was mixed in terms of goals and objectives. In terms of coherence, there was no single thread that everybody could weave their response activities together with.” ~ Michael Fraser, ASTHO

“The idea that we could — city to city, county to county, community to community — make it up as we went along without any guidance or strategy from the federal government has really damaged the overall response. ” ~ Chrissie Juliano, Big Cities Health Coalition

“What we have had, essentially, is a public health infrastructure that has been starved of resources. And even though every public health official in this country has thrown everything they have at COVID-19, we just didn’t give them enough to throw. And honestly, any elected official that has ever cut public health funding has some of the blood of 250,000 Americans on their hands. If we’re not willing to be aggressive in our language now to talk about the need for public health funding, then the vulnerability will continue to exist and we will be right back here… We spend 750 billion dollars a year on defense in this country. Tell me the foreign nation that has cost us 250,000 American lives on American soil. And yet we can’t get a 4.5 billion dollar bill passed through Congress right now to support public health. They’re rolling out a vaccine but have given us no ability to actually have an infrastructure that can deliver that vaccine.” ~ Brian Castrucci, de Beaumont Foundation

Listen to the Full Podcast Here

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Lloyd F. Novick, MD, MPH is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Public Health at the Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University. Previously, he was chair of this Department. He has served as the Commissioner of Health and Secretary for Human Services of Vermont, Director of Health Services for Arizona, and Director of the Office of Public Health for New York State. Previous academic positions include Professor and Director of the Preventive Medicine Program for SUNY Upstate Medical University, Professor and Chair of Epidemiology at the University of Albany School of Public Health, and Clinical Professor and Director of the Teaching Program in Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Vermont, College of Medicine. He is the Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. [Full bio]