How starving public health fueled a COVID fire in Florida

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida is both a microcosm and a cautionary tale for America. As the nation starved the public health system intended to protect communities against disease, staffing and funding fell faster and further in the Sunshine State, leaving it especially unprepared for the worst health crisis in a century. A joint investigation by KHN and The Associated Press finds that although Florida’s population grew by 2.4 million since 2010 to make it the nation’s third-most populous state, the state slashed its local health departments’ staffing ― from 12,422 full-time equivalent workers to 9,125 in 2019.