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ASTHO President's Challenge Initiatives

A yearly initiative of ASTHO to improve population health through the work of state public health agencies.

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  • Lessons Learned from the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands COVID-19 Response

    As COVID spread throughout the country and infection rates rose in every state, the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI) received media attention as remaining relatively COVID-free, apart from Guam. And most recently, the USAPI received renewed attention as they led the nation in vaccination rates. The USAPI’s unified response in the face of a global pandemic is a history-making tale of collaboration, communication, and partnership. The successes of public health leaders provide important lessons for preventing, preparing for, and responding to future public health emergencies.

  • A Wondrous World: A Week of Unity, Reflection and Renewal

    This week has been both exhilarating and poignant. Almost surreal. We started the week by pausing to celebrate and reflect on the life and legacy of one of America’s greatest sons, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On Tuesday, ASTHO participated in the National Day of Healing, which provided opportunities for our staff to engage in conversations with one another, seeing one another’s humanity, as well for individual mediation, reflection and learning. On Wednesday, we were honored to witness the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris—the first woman, first Black and first Asian American to serve in this role. This week also marked one year since we learned of the first known case of COVID-19. Despite these challenges, I am more optimistic now than ever that our collective impact and commonsense recovery response will help guide our successful return to safety and normalcy.

  • States Consider Expanding Scope of Flu Vaccine Policies

    The 2019-2020 flu season had approximately 5 million fewer illnesses than the previous year. Thanks to COVID-19 mitigation efforts like social distancing and increased handwashing—coupled with a higher rate of flu vaccinations among the public this year—this all likely led to a milder end to the 2019-2020 flu season and start of the 2020-2021 flu season. Although there were fewer flu illnesses overall last year, the rates of infection, hospitalization, and death were more severe for children aged 0-4. There were 80 deaths of children under the age of 5 last season, however due to underreporting the CDC estimates that as many as 254 children under age 5 died over the course of the 2019-2020 season.