Ending the Public Health Emergency Means Preparing for the Next One
Today marks the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency in the United States. We have come a long way since Jan. 31, 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was first declared a public health emergency, but none of us will ever forget how the pandemic changed our nation and impacted the lives of so many people.
Treatments and vaccines that didn’t exist three years ago are now effective tools against the virus. Without them we would not have crossed today’s important threshold. Vaccination provides the best protection against severe COVID-19 disease, including hospitalization and death, and being up to date on vaccines will continue to be important. The end of the official public health emergency does not mean the end of COVID-19 infections and deaths, and it is critical to continue to collect and monitor data so that we can be alerted quickly to outbreaks or new variants and adjust mitigation measures as needed.
More than 1 million people in the United States lost their lives to COVID-19 infection, and many others live with the lingering physical and mental effects of the virus known as long COVID. COVID-19 made existing health disparities worse. Black and Hispanic people had higher rates of infection, hospitalizations and death due to COVID-19, and the inequities that contributed to those disparities must be addressed as part of pandemic preparedness.
New health threats are on the horizon. The time to invest resources in preparedness is now, not when the next pathogen starts to spread. A well-funded infrastructure for public health, research and health care and a workforce trained in infectious diseases and biopreparedness is needed to protect the American people.
— Carlos del Rio MD, FIDSA – President, Infectious Diseases Society of America
The Infectious Diseases Society of America is a community of more than 12,000 physicians, scientists and public health experts who specialize in infectious diseases. Its purpose is to improve the health of individuals, communities and society by promoting excellence in patient care, education, research, public health and prevention relating to infectious diseases. Learn more at https://www.idsociety.org/.