NATIONWIDE | By ANNA MARIA BARRY-JESTER, HANNAH RECHT, MICHELLE R. SMITH, and LAUREN WEBER (AP)   –  An investigation has found that at least 181 public health leaders in 38 states have resigned, retired or been fired since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

The investigation by The Associated Press and Kaiser Health News shows that at the same time, lawmakers in 24 states have crafted legislation to weaken public health powers.

Many public health officials say they can’t do their jobs when they are undermined by their political leaders.

The public health departures signify an enormous brain drain just as the United States rolls out the largest vaccination campaign in its history and faces what are expected to be the worst months of the pandemic.