Press Room

Health Official Testifies on Lessons Learned from COVID-19 Pandemic One Year Later

ARLINGTON, VA (Feb. 24, 2021)—Today, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) member and public health leader Ngozi Ezike, MD, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, testified before the House Homeland Security Committee. Ezike answered questions in the hearing "Confronting the Coronavirus: Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic One Year Later".

During her testimony, Ezike outlines the steps her department has taken over the past year to mitigate the impact of the virus—like investing heavily in contact tracing and outreach in hard hit communities—and their plans as the state enters recovery mode. Ezike also spoke to efforts the federal government could take to help states, like grants to improve indoor air ventilation in high-priority settings and intentional community engagement and education strategies to promote vaccine science.

“In order to bring this pandemic to an end, states need continued, consistent support and resources from the federal government. New, highly contagious variants are threatening our progress and we need our federal partners to align their efforts with ours to help solve practical, operational issues. Thankfully we seem to be moving in this direction,” Ezike says.

This week, the total number of deaths in the U.S. reached 500,000 from COVID-19—something that would have seemed unimaginable one year ago. It is imperative that we understand the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic so we can prevent widespread losses in future public health emergencies.

For more information and to read the state health official’s testimony, visit the committee’s website.

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ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely associated states, and the District of Columbia, 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.