Some health experts warned for years ahead of the coronavirus pandemic that the nation was unprepared for a major outbreak. Advocates complain that public health receives generous funding after a crisis erupts, but that it lacks sustained funding to build up the infrastructure and talent needed to address fresh challenges as they emerge. Questions surrounding public health have become politicized, with people divided along party lines over disease control measures such as masks and vaccinations. Political interference has undermined the credibility of public health institutions and expert advice. This makes it harder for the nation's patchwork system — with responsibilities divided among the federal, state and local levels — to coordinate a response. The challenges of dealing with the pandemic, meanwhile, have shifted attention and ...

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