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Public health initiatives in the United States are suffering from a crisis of trust . Recent polls show that only a third of the public trusts insurance and pharmaceutical companies, while just 56 percent trust the government health agencies that are meant to regulate these industries. Another survey during the COVID-19 pandemic showed that only around half of Americans have a “great deal” of trust in the CDC , while a mere third have such trust in the Department of Health and Human Services.
This lack of trust is not merely temporary. Yes, our health agencies and companies have made mistakes and propagated falsehoods in the past two years. But their deep unpopularity is not merely the result of circumstance. Without alternatives, these institutions will always lack accountability, and therefore, trust. America is nothing without our unique history of popular sovereignty. We can no longer give public officials unilateral decision-making power over our public health response without competing voices, checks and balances.