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As state officials set up a wide range of urgent public health projects during the pandemic — from contact tracing to testing to vaccination — they chose to contract with private organizations rather than rely on local boards of health.

Those decisions were driven by a concern that the public health resources in cities and towns were too uneven and often under-resourced to handle to tasks.

But a new state law signed last week that distributed federal pandemic relief funds allocates $200 million for local boards of health, and local health officials and advocates say that investment could transform the state’s public health system into an equitable and reliable resource that’s equipped to meet the challenges of the next major health crisis.

“One of the results of this terrible COVID pandemic has been that state leaders have seen what our fractured, inefficient, broken local public health system means to public health,” said Carlene Pavlos, executive director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association.

“And the Legislature, by investing in local public health, and the governor, by his signature, is saying that we know that we need to invest in this local system — so that when the next pandemic comes, the local public health system is prepared to respond.”

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