Public Health Departments Are Prepared for Outbreaks

February 05, 2020

ARLINGTON, VA—Michael Fraser, chief executive officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), issued the following statement today in response to the Trust for America’s Health report, Ready or Not 2020: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism.

“State and territorial health officials are equipped to face the challenge of preparing for and responding to the current novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak. The unprecedented pace of the public health response to 2019-nCoV has only been possible because of prior investments in public health preparedness. Governmental public health agencies share a unique and important mission: they work to keep America healthy 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Outbreaks like the 2019-nCoV are critical reminders of the significance of public health readiness and the need for continued strengthening of public health agencies’ core response capabilities.

“To accelerate our pace and meet the challenges of current and future health threats, we must advance our world-class data and analytics capabilities, maintain and expand our state-of the art public health laboratory capacity, continue building a workforce of trusted, expert, public health professionals, sustain our capacity to rapidly respond to outbreaks at their source, and assure a strong global and domestic preparedness capacity. ASTHO looks forward to working with Congress and the administration to increase federal funding dedicated to preparedness programs to further enhance our ability to protect the health of all Americans.”


ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely associated states, and Washington, D.C., as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice.