CCST workshop envisions a more holistic and inclusive public health system informed by the COVID-19 response


SACRAMENTO, Calif.—The California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) hosted a workshop with leading public health experts on June 14e and 17e to identify opportunities to strengthen California’s public health system. Participants were challenged to produce actionable, holistic and equitable recommendations for decision makers.

The workshop was part of the CCST Disaster Resilience Initiative COVID-19 working group, which focuses on applying lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to build California’s resilience to future pandemics and other disasters. Michel KleemanSenior Fellow of the School of International Relations at UC San Diego, led the workshop as chair of the CCST COVID-19 Steering Committee.

The two-day workshop began with an introductory conversation between Dr. Harvey FinebergPresident of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and Dr Rohan RadhakrishnaChief Equity Officer and Deputy Director of the California Department of Public Health Office of Health Equity. The two leaders discussed lessons learned throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and their vision for a 21st century public health system.

Portraits of Dr. Fineberg and Dr. Radhakrishna on a blue background with the CCTS logo

“Before people leave COVID-19, we have a narrow window to boldly reinvent and build the resilient public health system that keeps us safe and well-being. Climate change is already increasing the frequency and severity of disasters acting as a force multiplier of communicable and chronic diseases. This is the moment in our careers to break the historic cycle of panic, lament and neglect. May the recommendations from the workshop respond to the urgency, hope, and visionary scale needed to ensure a healthy California for all,” said Radhakrishna.

“The COVID pandemic has taught us the vital role of public health leadership at all levels: national, state and local. In California, we have been well served by excellent public health leaders, and this spirit of excellence encompasses an attitude of continuous learning and continuous improvement. This workshop can provide lessons that will help us deal even more effectively with public health emergencies in the future,” said Finberg.

The workshop included participants from a wide range of institutions, including public health experts from the CCST university and federal laboratory partner institutions, as well as experts from local, county, state and federal governments, universities outside of California, and nonprofit health and research organizations.

CCST CEO Amber Mace, PhD, welcomed attendees and emphasized the importance of bringing together diverse experts to identify opportunities to strengthen California’s public health system.

CCST CEO Amber Mace, PhD, Dr. Rohan Radhakrishna and Dr. Harvey Fineberg speak during the keynote discussion at the CCST COVID-19 Public Health Workshop, part of the Resilience Initiative to CCST disasters.

“Now, in our third year of the pandemic and counting, there are so many crucial lessons to be learned about our response to the pandemic,” said mass. “Discussions between the wide range of experts involved in this workshop will produce timely and actionable recommendations for policy makers to support and improve our public health system.”

The panel discussions focused on six key issues related to the public health system: biomonitoring, outbreak detection and early warning systems; case notification, contact tracing and containment; Data infrastructure, analysis, modeling and forecasting; Media and crisis communication; dispense and administer medical countermeasures; and providing care and treatment.

Although the keynote address and subsequent conversations were not recorded, the proceedings and recommendations of the workshop will be released at a later date.

CCST COVID-19 steering committee:

Michel Kleeman (Chair), UC San Diego; Red Cross
Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, U.C. Davis
Jesus G. Alvelo-Maurosa, national science foundation
Arleen Brown, UC Los Angeles
Richard Carpiano, UC Riverside
Michael Kurilla, National Center for the Advancement of Translational Sciences, NIH


About the California Council on Science and Technology
The California Council on Science and Technology is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization established through the California State Legislature. It has been strengthening California policy through science and technology since 1988. We engage leading science and technology experts to advise state decision makers, ensuring that California policy is strengthened. and informed by scientific knowledge, research and innovation.


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