Local county public health agencies reflect on pandemic response

Rachel Mills
Updated: April 05, 2021 05:36 PM
Created: April 05, 2021 04:55 PM

(ABC 6 News)- It's National Public Health Week, and it has been a long year for public health agencies across the country. 

During a typical year, county public health departments would be celebrating all their hard work this week, but this year, they're a little busy. So, what's changed since these agencies took on the pandemic?

"My time and two or three other staff have been pretty much completely focused on Covid in the last year. So, to be able to do things we usually do, those have been put on the wayside," Sue Yost, Freeborn County Public Health director, said. 

"Over those first couple months, there was a lot of shifting of what people were doing day-to-day," Graham Briggs, Olmsted County Public Health director, said.  

Public health departments are responsible for much more than just pandemic response. They are the ones helping after natural disasters or entering homes to make sure people are getting the care they need.

"Health department staff are actively involved making sure that the impacted piece of the public is basically as safe as we can help them be. And help them literally, at times, get back on their feet," Briggs said.  

Brian Hanft, the Cerro Gordo County director of public health, said public health is using a lot of tools to keep their communities safe during the pandemic. 

"Communication and community are the two biggest. You have got to figure out a way to communicate at least, literally, daily," Hanft said. 

"Nothing has been more apparent to me during this pandemic than public health really does include each and every member of a community, and we've seen this community come together to protect each other," Briggs said. 

All three public health directors said they expect to be celebrating by this week next year.

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