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On March 11, 2020, the WHO director general declared COVID-19 a pandemic. More than six million lives have been lost because of COVID-19, and countless more have been forever altered by those losses and the broader toll of the pandemic.
As we assess the current public health landscape, we are confronted with numerous urgent and overlapping challenges. From the critical work that remains to dismantle the foundation of structural racism that is so deeply entrenched in our society, to new findings that we are teetering closer to the edge with climate change, and a burgeoning public health crisis born from war. In this moment, when there is reason for optimism in the fight against COVID-19, our experience has taught us to remain on guard; the viral evolution ahead for COVID-19 is not a well-marked path.
Yet it is important, especially at a time like this, to acknowledge the tremendous strides that have been made. Efficacious vaccines have been produced; local and global front line workers and volunteers across all sectors have made a tremendous difference in all that is possible today; and neighbors, family members, colleagues, friends, and strangers have stepped up to bridge gaps by sharing their time, kindness, and care in service of others.
The month of March also brings with it the official start of springtime. Whether there’s snow on your sidewalk or perpetual warm weather where you live, we all yearn for the energy and inspiration that comes from a new beginning. Working in academic public health, I have the good fortune to experience fresh reminders of what can — and does — fuel a brighter, healthier, and more equitable tomorrow. It is the groundbreaking research of faculty, staff, students, and alumni; the academic and community-based partnerships that develop and amplify healthy solutions; and our collective understanding that a healthier and more equitable tomorrow is always worth fighting for.
Dr. Ron Brookmeyer
UCLA Fielding School of Public Health