Dear public health lab staff: Thank you!

Dear public health lab staff: Thank you!

By Scott J. Becker, CEO, APHL

This week is National Public Health Week, a time to celebrate all the ways public health professionals keep our communities safe and healthy. This year, with a novel disease circling the globe threatening our health and disrupting our lives, the observance takes on even greater significance.

I’ve heard so many emotional and passionate stories about our collective response to COVID-19 that I could fill a book. Laboratory staff who are on call around the clock, working extra shifts and weekends to meet demand. Public health laboratories collaborating with clinical and commercial labs to verify results and help expand urgently needed testing capacity. Lab directors advocating with their elected leaders to ensure limited tests and supplies are prioritized for those who need them most. All of this while trying to keep yourselves and your families healthy and safe in this uncertain time. Everyone’s steadfast commitment to quality laboratory systems is abundantly clear.

You are inspiring and we celebrate you!

Send us your stories

To help us honor this important work and recognize the remarkable dedication of public health laboratory staff, we’re asking for your photos, videos and stories reflecting your personal staff experiences during this response. These don’t need to be elaborate or perfectly polished. Simple statements and depictions of what it’s like to work in a public health lab right now are perfect. Submissions can even be anonymous, without any names or jurisdictional information. We will share these on our social networks, blog, website and other ways. We’d love to have stories reflect experiences from across the entire laboratory workforce spectrum — from your facility and maintenance staff, to those working data entry and accessioning, to the scientists on bench and in full PPE, to the director’s office and everyone in between. Please email eoc@aphl.org to share or for more information.

We’ve also joined partners in a new effort to tell the stories of public health professionals through short videos. The website WhyPublicHealthMatters.org allows anyone anywhere to quickly record and upload a 60-second video with a smartphone, tablet or computer. By sharing your video about your experience during the COVID-19 response, you can help inspire others and build support for public health.

Even in the midst of our pandemic response, fraught with so many challenges and so much risk, there is reason to celebrate our staff and their incredible work across the laboratory. National Public Health Week reminds us of that.

Thank you for your extraordinary work!

Photo: Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene scientists take a quick break from COVID-19 virus testing to send a reminder to Stay Safer at Home.

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