Building COVID-19 Resilience

En Español

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For science.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that when governments fail to act before and during a public health crisis the public’s health suffers tremendous consequences.1 By January 2021, the U.S. had nearly 24 million reported cases of COVID-19 and almost 400,000 deaths.2 When response to the pandemic has been slow, other parts of life in the U.S. have suffered: Millions of people lost their jobs, and more than half of the people who were laid off at the beginning of the pandemic are still unemployed.3 Food insecurity only increased during 2020, and the number of people facing food insecurity could climb to as high as 50 million in the U.S.4 Where schools weren’t prepared with plans on how to continue students’ learning during crises, including natural disasters and pandemics, students’ educational attainment suffered.5 And more than half of U.S. adults say their mental health has been negatively affected by the pandemic.6 In short: The U.S. is suffering, and without action, things are likely to get worse.

For action.
Share facts and science about COVID-19 to battle misinformation. Send an Action Alert to Congress in support of investment in public health infrastructure and expanded paid sick leave. We need to better equip our public health system to respond to future public health emergencies. Urge Congress to prioritize equitable vaccine distribution. Stay informed on vaccine progress and how the novel coronavirus will continue to affect us with APHA’s COVID-19 Conversations webinar series. Vaccines are here, but they will take time and we must remain vigilant. Stay home when you can and wear a mask, stay at least six feet away from others and wash your hands frequently if you do have to go out. Get a flu shot to protect yourself, your family and your community and to reduce the burden on our health care systems fighting COVID-19, and get the COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available to you.

For health.
The data is clear: when we take action backed by public health science, health outcomes improve. Non-medical mask-wearing by 75% of the population reduced infections, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 by 37.7%.7 States and local counties that enforced stay-at-home orders saw significantly decreased COVID-19 incidence and death rates.8 Health experts note that expanding access to testing helps achieve better health outcomes,9 and historical literature shows us that we can protect our communities by providing hazard pay to essential workers.10 Moreover, when people’s basic needs are met – when they are safely housed, have enough food to eat, enough money to survive, access to health care and other essentials – they have reduced stress and are more likely to have better physical health as a result.11

For justice.
We know racism contributes to negative health outcomes, and that’s true with COVID-19, too. Black, Indigenous and Latinx communities are disproportionately affected by the pandemic.12 That’s true for both patients and health care providers: While 60% of health care workers are white, most confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths among that group are people of color.13 Fewer Black and Hispanic workers than white workers are able to work from home, which means they are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 at work — and more likely to die.14 Assuring equitable access to vaccines and treatment should be a top priority for public health professionals and state and federal governments.15 We must continue to strive for health equity in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.16