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Dr. Mysheika W. Roberts, the health commissioner for Columbus Public Health, poses for a portrait in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Public health officials who have juggled bare-bones budgets for years are happy to have the additional money prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet they worry it will soon dry up as the pandemic recedes, continuing a boom-bust funding cycle that has plagued the U.S. public health system for decades. If budgets are slashed again, they warn, that could leave the nation where it was before covid: unprepared for a health crisis. “We need funds that we can depend on year after year,” says Roberts. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon/AP)

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Congress has poured tens of billions of dollars into state and local public health departments in response to the coronavirus pandemic, paying for masks, contact tracers and education campaigns to persuade people to get vaccinated.

By MICHELLE R. SMITH, LAUREN WEBER and HANNAH RECHT Associated Press and KHN April 20, 2021
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