COVID crystalized the importance of a strong local public health system across our state and the nation. In their latest report, student researchers from the Public Health Center of the Yale Policy Institute assessed Connecticut’s local public health system in the context of the COVID pandemic using Public Health 3.0, the latest national standards. The researchers found a need to strengthen relationships between local public health and community leaders, for more accountability for local public health, and better data collection and access.
The researchers found that Connecticut towns with higher white populations (expected) and higher Medicaid coverage rates (unexpected) had lower odds of COVID deaths. According to the report, while access to care for Connecticut’s total population is getting better and our uninsured rates are dropping, disparities in health outcomes and access are growing. Chronic underfunding of local public health in Connecticut has led to most state residents not being covered by an accredited local public health department. Although it has improved, food insecurity remains one of the most pressing social needs in our state and varies considerably between counties. Housing is also a challenge for too many state residents, affecting health status. The report includes recommendations for improvement citing successful models from other states.
The report is an important tool for Connecticut policymakers to improve our vital local public health system for both the next pandemic and for chronic population health challenges facing our state.