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Reflecting on the lessons of the pandemic

Date: Mar 11 2022

Contact: Media Relations, 202-777-3913  

Statement from APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD

As we mark the two-year anniversary of the declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic, the American Public Health Association honors the memory of nearly 1 million Americans who have lost their lives. We mourn the more than 6 million global deaths and urge widespread public health support to ensure such a still-unfolding tragedy never happens again.

Throughout the pandemic, we have cheered as health care workers, public health professionals and many others gave their all and as scientists developed safe and effective vaccines at record speed. We have despaired as misinformation spread, costing lives and livelihoods.

As we deal with the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, the critical role of public health continues to be spotlighted. We must focus on renewing and rebuilding our long under-valued public health infrastructure.

Health departments have been operating for decades under persistent and widening resource gaps. Inadequate infrastructure harms our ability to address population health needs and reinforces inequities in care. This cannot continue.

We emphasize the need for health interventions that address the inequities that COVID-19 exposed, disparities of care in communities of color and lower-income Americans that led to higher rates of infection and deaths.

If we are to become the healthiest nation, we must examine our response to COVID-19, challenge ourselves to move forward and grasp lessons learned. We strongly support the effort to create a COVID commission to investigate the impact and origin of COVID-19. Tens of thousands of people in the U.S. are still stricken with COVID every day, and there are long-term health concerns for those impacted by the disease.

As we move forward, we are still learning. We know science can move quickly in responding to diseases through the development of vaccines at a quickened pace. We know the technology of our era makes it possible for many of us to work from home. Still, the unequal access to such technology is yet another inequity that must be addressed.

These past two years have been a sobering time for us all. My hope is that we reflect both on what we have gone through and where we are going, acknowledging public health has never been more important to our nation’s health.


The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a 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.