State and Territorial Health Leaders Look to Next Phase of COVID-19 Pandemic

March 02, 2022

ARLINGTON, VA—Earlier today, the Biden Administration released its “National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan,” outlining the path forward for America in the COVID-19 pandemic. The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) CEO Michael Fraser released the following statement in response.

“For over two years, public health officials have worked tirelessly to protect the health of their jurisdictions. Along with their healthcare partners, state and territorial health leaders are committed to doing everything possible to continue to prevent COVID-19 related illness and save lives.

State and territorial public health officials, in conjunction with public health and healthcare partners, are assessing what the next phase of the pandemic will look like. ASTHO is pleased that the Biden Administration has addressed the changing nature of the COVID-19 virus and continues to support the need for all states and territories to remain vigilant and prepared in efforts to prevent COVID-19 related illness. Many of the elements in the plan reflect the current priorities of state and territorial health officials including furthering efforts to vaccinate more Americans, activities to increase access to testing and therapeutics, and to prevent future economic and educational shutdowns.

We are seeing a new phase of the pandemic in the United States and around the world. As such, our strategies and tactics need to change. State and territorial health leaders are cautiously optimistic that this spring will bring fewer hospitalizations and deaths but remain uncertain about potential COVID-19 outbreaks in the summer and fall seasons. The virus is here to stay, and we consider this to be the next phase of our work to prevent COVID-19, not the end. This plan will help inform efforts in this new phase of response and help guide states in their actions to keep every American healthy.”

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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 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.