'Something Caused People To Lose Faith': OKC-County Health Department Reflects On COVID-19 Response


Monday, July 25th 2022, 6:55 am



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It has been a long 29 months since COVID-19 first arrived in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma City health workers told CBS News they’re facing burn-out and a brain drain that’s threatening our nation’s health security.

Public health is nothing new; from making sure food is safe to eat, to keeping workplaces safe and getting the community vaccinated against dangerous diseases, but officials said COVID-19 has taxed the system like never before.

The Oklahoma City County Health Department took center stage in a CBS Sunday Morning story about our country's public health infrastructure.

Executive Director Patrick McGough said the now more than two year long pandemic showed some of the faults in how our nation responds to health crises, including the department’s reliance on a fax machine to receive COVID-19 numbers from hospitals due to a lack of secure data sharing software.

McGough told CBS News Chief Medical Correspondent Doctor Jon Lapook the pandemic has taken a toll on public health employees.

“Lots of hate email, attacks that were awful, all kinds of stuff,” McGough said.

“When people question your motive, what does that feel like?” Lapook asked.

“I see that I have a staff on the front lines giving their everything that they have, their family time, their own health, their own finances, and then to be attacked and called all kinds of things, it didn’t just happen because of the pandemic arrived,” McGough said. “Something else happened. Something caused people to lose faith and it’s to the public’s demise. It may do away with public health.”

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Wolensky said these issues are not just an Oklahoma problem. She said a major problem for the public health system has been a systemic lack of funding.

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