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Roundup: U.S. health agencies lack of public trust over a year into COVID-19 pandemic

May 16, 2021

Washington (US), May 16: U.S. health agencies are facing the challenge of restoring public trust over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic.
A recent survey from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found 52 percent of respondents said they had a "great deal or quite a lot" of trust in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while 25 percent said they somewhat trusted the agency. Twenty percent of respondents said they had little to no trust in the agency.
Fewer than four in ten adults reported having a great deal or quite a lot of trust in the National Institutes of Health (37 percent), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (37 percent), the National Academy of Medicine (34 percent), and the federal Department of Health and Human Services (33 percent), when it comes to recommendations made to improve health, according to the survey.
The low levels of trust were not just at the federal level. Only 44 percent of respondents expressed strong trust in their local health departments, and 41 percent said as much for their state health departments.
The survey, conducted among 1,305 adults from Feb. 11 to March 15, also found only about one third of adults (34 percent) gave positive ratings to the nation's system for protecting the public from health threats and preventing illness, with nearly two thirds of adults (65 percent) rating the nation's public health system as fair or poor.
These ratings were lower than roughly a decade ago, when this question was previously asked in 2009 and 43 percent of the public rated the nation's public health system as excellent or good.
"Restoring public trust will be very difficult. But as we see the light at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic tunnel, we need a way to make sure that in the future, these issues are not polarized by partisan politics," said an opinion titled "Nearly half of Americans don't trust CDC and FDA - that's a problem."
The article posted on on Saturday and co-authored by Robert Blendon, emeritus professor at the Harvard Chan School, suggested it's going to require a series of bipartisan committees and commissions at the federal, state and local levels to examine the performance of their public health agencies, and how they interacted with the public during this pandemic.
"Specifically, these activities have to reach out to the broader public to understand their views on why they have become so distrustful," said the article.
As of 3:00 p.m. ET Saturday, over 32.9 million confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported in the United States, resulting in more than 585,000 deaths, the most of any country, according to a rally by Johns Hopkins University.
Health experts have attributed U.S. failure to control the virus to political polarization, a rejection of science and an absence of a national strategy under the previous administration.
Source: Xinhua