Over the past two decades, California has shuttered 11 public health labs, leaving 29 county and city labs to serve a population of almost 40 million people. The closures hamper Governor Gavin Newsom’s call for “targeted testing” and underscore years of static public health funding.
Writing for The Sacramento Bee, reporter Hannah Wiley interviews state professors, politicians, and health officials to understand how California has relied on private and academic labs for COVID-19 testing because of the closures. The state has “the same number [of public health labs] we had in 1950, when the population was a little more than 10 million,” Executive Director of the Health Officers Association of California Kat DeBurgh tells Wiley. Jason Hoppin, spokesperson for Santa Cruz County, explains to Wiley how it “took us nine years to hire our former public health lab director” because of insufficient funding.
Wiley currently heads the Capitol Alert morning newsletter at The Sacramento Bee and covers state politics. She is a former reporting fellow at The Texas Tribune and received her master’s in investigative reporting from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, a Pulitzer Center Campus Consortium partner, in 2018.
To read the full story, visit The Sacramento Bee.