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Ebola Tests America's Weakened Public Health System

Years of cuts have left local health agencies ill-equipped to handle Ebola or any other outbreak
Health officials disinfect the Dallas apartment of a nurse infected with Ebola
Health officials disinfect the Dallas apartment of a nurse infected with EbolaPhotograph by Cooper Neill/The New York Times/Redux

As dozens of health-care workers in Dallas are being monitored for signs of Ebola, public health agencies around the country are preparing for more cases. To prevent the spread of the disease, they must train medical staff, test crisis plans, and communicate with the public. All that must be accomplished by a public health workforce diminished by years of budget cuts.

City, county, and state health departments employ almost 60,000 fewer people than they did in 2008, according to tallies from groups representing health officials. That’s a drop of almost 20 percent in six years.