Officials like Fauci have undermined trust in government institutions

Trust is the single most important asset that the public-health community has. Public health involves getting people to change behaviors, and accept vaccines and medications, to control disease.

For most of my lifetime, that has been an easy task: People trusted the public-health authorities, in part because they had a long track record of making people’s lives better. And, of course, people trusted institutions in general.

But now trust is harder to come by. Institutions in general are less trusted, as one legacy of the Trump era has been the revelation of just how politicized (and sometimes corrupt) so many of our major institutions are.

And then there’s the record of the public-health establishment itself in the COVID era, which has been untrustworthy.