Featured Story


The impact of the COVID-19 response on the public health workforce has been profoundly felt by employees and the agencies they serve. Across the country, unplanned leadership transitions, early retirements, and personnel scale-ups have all impacted who the workforce is and what they do day-to-day. Many of those who have remained are feeling depleted and battered. In order to support and build the public health system the country needs, we need data specific to governmental public health.Read More »

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The Historic Opportunity COVID-19 Presents to Address Health Equity

November 24, 2021|10:24 a.m.| Marcus Plescia MD, MPH | ASTHO Chief Medical Officer

The disparities experienced during the COVID pandemic have brought a national focus to health equity in our nation. The attention and resources currently being provided to help address health inequities provide an opportunity that I have never experienced in my public health career. There are still challenges, but we have an opportunity to build momentum for the first time in decades if we can focus on implementing evidence-based strategies, demonstrating change and documenting our progress. Read More »

Recent Federal Actions Spur Changes to Children's Blood Lead Level Screenings and Response

November 21, 2021|3:58 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

The COVID-19 pandemic introduced new challenges for screening children’s blood lead levels, as screening rates across the country dropped during stay-at-home orders. A substantive federal policy change and provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act are significantly changing the landscape for reporting and reducing childhood lead poisoning. Read what states are doing in this week’s health policy update. Read More »

Interagency Collaboration to Improve Business Processes in the U.S. Virgin Islands

November 19, 2021|6:10 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

A groundbreaking “all-of-government” approach is getting underway in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) to more efficiently manage and expend federal grant funding for social determinants of health and overall population health improvement. The initiative follows findings that public health agencies encounter redundant, multi-layered review and approval processes that hamper their ability to efficiently procure needed goods and services that address long standing and emerging public health needs. Moreover, such processes hinder the ability to quickly stand up critical programs and respond to public health emergencies. Read More »

Public Health Thank You Day: Thoughts From ASTHO Leadership

November 19, 2021|12:25 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Every year on Nov. 22, ASTHO—and countless other agencies and organizations worldwide—take a moment to acknowledge the public health workforce on Public Health Thank You Day. Like so many other days of recognition, it has become a blip on our yearly calendar. And, simply put, that’s just not enough. This year, ASTHO leadership took pen to paper to share some of our feelings, fears, and—yes, our thanks—for everything the public health workforce has always done to protect us. Read More »

Rural Health Perspectives: West Virginia and Montana Share Priorities

November 17, 2021|11:13 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

National Rural Health Day is a way to celebrate these rural or underserved communities and to highlight healthcare providers and recognize challenges that these communities face. In recognition of Rural Health Day, which falls annually on Nov. 18, we spoke with Ayne Amjad, MD, MPH (SHO-WV) and Maggie Cook-Shimanek, MD, MPH (SHO-MT) about the importance of public health in rural areas. Read More »

National Rural Health Day: States Investing in Rural Communities

November 16, 2021|12:05 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

November 18 is National Rural Health Day, a commemoration started by State Offices of Rural Health to recognize the power and resilience of rural communities. Twenty percent of the U.S. population lives in rural communities. Recognizing the needs of rural areas, states are introducing and enacting legislation that leads to focused investment in rural communities and expanded access to care. Read More »

Vaccinating Children: The Final Step

November 10, 2021|12:16 p.m.| Marcus Plescia MD, MPH | ASTHO Chief Medical Officer | Claire Hannan, MPH | Executive Director, Association of Immunization Managers

As we anticipate the likely approval of COVID-19 vaccination for children, our nation faces the final step to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control. If approved for children ages 5-11, the COVID-19 vaccine will dramatically improve our efforts to resume in-person learning in our nation’s schools and will help break the cycle of transmission from children to adults. Read More »

Update for Public Health Workforce About Federal Loan Forgiveness

November 09, 2021|10:11 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In addition to the countless hours worked during the COVID-19 pandemic, many public health workers are also grappling with how to repay outstanding federal loans. In response, the U.S. Department of Education recently announced temporary relief to current and future Public Service Loan Forgiveness program participants as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read More »

The Shifting Legal Landscape of COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements

November 03, 2021|11:00 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

As governments and private entities adopt COVID-19 vaccine protocols to protect health and safety, legal challenges are mounting. In some states, policymakers have proactively attempted to limit or prohibit adopting COVID-19 vaccine requirements. The Network for Public Health Law identified at least 65 lawsuits against COVID-19 vaccine requirements and found that courts have upheld vaccination requirements in most cases, blocking a few requirements based on religious liberty concerns. On rare occasion, lawsuits are being filed challenging a state’s limitation or prohibition of COVID-19 vaccine requirements. Read More »

United for One Health

November 02, 2021|10:16 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Nov. 3, 2021, marks the sixth annual One Health Day, a global campaign to recognize and embrace how public health is connected to the health of animals and our shared environment. In this post, ASTHO talks about One Health with Wayne E. Cascio, MD, who serves as the Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Research and Development at EPA. Read More »

Despite Major Benefits, Flavored Tobacco Regulations Face an Uphill Battle Led by Big Tobacco

October 28, 2021|10:09 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Flavored tobacco policy has changed rapidly over the past few months. In April, FDA announced their intention to implement rules prohibiting the sale of menthol e-cigarettes and flavored cigars, though it may take years until they implement a final rule. And in 2021, 15 states and Washington, D.C. considered legislation prohibiting the sale of some or all flavored tobacco products. However the tobacco industry has seen success recently in obstructing the legislative efforts of states in this area. Read More »

The Children COVID-19 Left Behind: A Public Health Call to Action

October 27, 2021|11:00 a.m.| Lindsey Myers, Vice President, Social and Behavioral Health

Researchers estimate more than 140,000 children in the United States experienced the death of a parent or grandparent caregiver between April 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. The study highlights disturbing disparities in caregiver deaths by race and ethnicity. Hispanic, Black, and American Indian/Alaska Native children were at 1.1 to 4.5 times higher risk of losing a caregiver than non-Hispanic White children. These inequities result from structural and social conditions such as discrimination, living in under-resourced neighborhoods, barriers to accessing healthcare, experiencing food insecurity, and economic instability. Read More »

Courts Considering Challenges to States Blocking School Mask Requirements

October 21, 2021|9:13 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Recent state laws and governor emergency orders prohibiting universal school mask protocols are complicating the implementation of CDC’s evidence-based guidance for COVID-19 mitigation measures for in-person school. Ten states have enacted laws (Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Utah) or issued executive orders (Florida, Tennessee, and Texas) to limit or prohibit issuing universal face mask protocols for schools and in eight of these states the law or order now faces a legal challenge. Read More »

ASTHO and the National Council for Mental Wellbeing Address Public Health Workers

October 18, 2021|5:16 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

The executive leaders of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and the National Council for Mental Wellbeing take a moment to collectively acknowledge the incredible efforts that public health workers have taken to address the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Tomás J. Aragón

October 14, 2021|3:21 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Tomás Aragón, MD, DrPH serves as the director of the California Department of Public Health and the State Public Health Officer, since January 4, 2021. Prior to coming to CDPH, he was the health officer for the City and County of San Francisco and director of the public health division. In this post we discuss how COVID has impacted the Latino community. Read More »

What December Means for a Beloved Nutrition Program

October 14, 2021|2:04 p.m.| Carolyn McCoy, MPH | Brian Dittmeier

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children is a targeted public health nutrition program designed to support nutrition and health behaviors that reach low-income families. The program is funded through discretionary funds to the United States Department of Agriculture and administered by each state’s health or public health department. The department then contracts with county health departments, local health centers, hospitals, federally qualified health centers, and private nonprofits to deliver community-based clinic services. Read More »

Building Capacity and Dedicating Field Staff to Address Substance Use Disorders During COVID-19

October 14, 2021|1:15 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated barriers to care and treatment for individuals experiencing opioid use disorder. Experts estimate a record-setting 90,000 people died of a drug overdose in 2020. Additionally, as the pandemic continues, it has understandably diverted attention, funds, and personnel usually focused on the opioid crisis. State and local public health departments are experiencing an all-time low in staffing, especially among Maternal and Child Health programs. Read More »

Long COVID Causes Health Policy Shifts Across States

October 06, 2021|4:35 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Data reveals that nearly one third of COVID-19 patients experience one or more post-COVID conditions that linger for weeks or months after infection. The cause, duration, and potential treatments for these conditions are still being investigated. As more information emerges, federal and state policies are beginning to support “long-COVID” patients by clarifying how post-COVID conditions correlate to disability benefits, workers compensation and protections, and supporting further research into the conditions. Read More »

States Explore the Relationship Between Partner Violence and Substance Use Disorders

September 30, 2021|1:43 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a critical moment to address intimate partner violence as a major public health threat. Intimate partner violence associated with substance use disorders and mental health challenges, and numerous studies indicate that people who are abused are more likely to use or become dependent on substances. The risk for all of these outcomes has been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read More »

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