The AIDS pandemic was marked by a slow response and a lack of clear public health messages and testing. Despite those lessons and the infrastructure built to contain the spread of infectious diseases, the U.S. still faced issues during the outbreak of COVID-19. However, the availability of vaccines encouraged a belief that infectious diseases were a thing of the past and during the second half of the 20th century, and much of the U.S.’s disease prevention infrastructure crumbled.
This lesson will help students to understand the history of public health, government response or lack thereof to public health emergencies, and it will introduce differing methods of pandemic preparation by several presidential administrations. Students will examine the issues of federalism involved in public health and take a position on what level(s) of government are responsible for handling public health emergencies.