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Working with state and territorial public health leaders is always exciting and incredibly rewarding: every day there’s a new development, a new solution, a new headline that impacts the health of all Americans. Of course, that also has its downside – some of those things that make public health challenging come at a tremendous cost to our nation’s health: measles outbreaks, rising STD rates, growing burden of chronic diseases, and illnesses like EVALI. And that’s just scratching the surface.Read More »

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ASTHO 2020 Summer Reading List

August 06, 2020|4:05 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Deciding what book to read is a task in itself. To make things easier, ASTHO’s staff curated a list of page-turning and thought-provoking books guaranteed to be worth your time. There’s something for everyone on our list, whether you're looking for an escape or working on personal and professional growth. Read More »

Congress Convenes Sectors on School Reopenings

August 06, 2020|3:03 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the country, increased attention has been given to how schools, colleges, and universities can safely reopen for the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year. To note, many schools and institutions closed in March and April of 2020 to reduce exposure of the virus among students, teachers, and related personnel, and there has been discourse at all levels of government about the feasibility of in-person academic instruction this Fall. At the center of these discussions have been state, local, and territorial health officials, who are providing their expertise through constant communication and consultation with education officials. Read More »

States Ensure Safe and Accessible Elections During COVID-19

July 29, 2020|11:33 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

In 1965, while signing the Voting Rights Act into law, President Lyndon B. Johnson stated that “a man without a vote is a man without protection.” However, voting is a bit more complicated this year as it can increase the chance of COVID-19 exposure and spread of infection. However, the COVID-19 pandemic should not prevent registered voters from being able to cast their votes in the upcoming election. In an election year, it is important that state and territorial health agencies and their legislative and executive counterparts provide different forms of protection as citizens exercise their right to vote this November. Read More »

Transformational Leadership: A Vaccine for Rural Healthcare Delivery

July 23, 2020|9:54 a.m.| Benjamin Anderson, MBA, MHCDS

During the early spread of COVID-19, the National Rural Health Association senior vice president Brock Slabach stated: “Before the pandemic, rural hospitals were struggling for survival. COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the fractures that already existed within rural communities in terms of their healthcare delivery.” These fractures also exposed the desperate need for ethical transformational leadership within rural healthcare delivery systems. The time to build these capacities is now. Read More »

Promoting Health Equity Through State Orders for COVID-19 Testing

July 22, 2020|12:24 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In order to contain and mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, widespread, rapid testing is key. Rampant and efficient testing determines who has the virus and who may be at risk of transmitting it, and allows for effective management of isolation and quarantine activities for the infected or exposed. While testing has increased over the past months across the country—by mid-July the number of tests reached between 700,000 to 800,000 per day, double the number of daily tests performed in May. However, that number is still well below the estimated 1.2 million daily tests needed to contain the outbreak and 4.3 million tests per day that would suppress the virus. Read More »

Getting Ahead of the COVID-19 Vaccine

July 15, 2020|4:20 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Scientists are working quickly to develop a safe and effective vaccine to provide immunity to COVID-19. Once a vaccine is approved, it will likely be imperative for states to authorize as many health care professionals to administer it, since the demand is expected to be extremely high. In addition, legislation authorizing alternative providers within the immunization neighborhood (e.g., pharmacies, schools, workplace, and other clinical sites) can expand the places where vaccines are available and increase access to vaccination among vulnerable populations. By recognizing that not every person is reliably linked to a healthcare provider, these policies can allow for timely and consistent immunization services. Read More »

Why Public Health Officials Should Make Voting Accessible for Everybody

July 15, 2020|12:12 p.m.| Edward P. Ehlinger, MD, MSPH, Past-President of ASTHO

The 2020 election will be here before we know it, and our country is in the midst of cascading and interconnected crises: an infectious disease pandemic, nationwide protests against racial injustice, and catastrophic economic strain for millions out of work. Read More »

Rundown of State and Territorial COVID-19 Mask Requirements

July 09, 2020|11:11 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

In describing one author’s choice of pseudonyms, Oscar Wilde observed, “A mask tells us more than a face.” Today, the masks we so often see tell us some of what we know about the coronavirus. Since the coronavirus is passed from person to person through sneezes, coughs, talking, and even singing and cheering, covering one’s nose and mouth with a mask or other face covering can reduce the amount of virus that is spread to people who are in close contact. With this understanding, the CDC recommends that people wear face coverings and masks when they are in public and unable to properly physically distance themselves from others. Read More »

How to Support Youth Post COVID-19 With More Flexible Policies

July 08, 2020|12:00 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Over the past few months, COVID-19 has highlighted how current policies and funding do not support an equitable approach to health. However, states and territories have begun to leverage statutory and regulatory flexibilities to improve health outcomes for the disproportionately affected during this pandemic. One of the ways that states and territories can support these groups and maximize these flexibilities during and post-COVID-19 is by deploying a Shared Risk and Protective Factor (SRPF) Framework to address negative health outcomes. Read More »

The New Frontier of Digital Proximity Tracing

July 01, 2020|11:27 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

As state, local, territorial, and tribal (SLTT) health departments continue to cautiously reopen parts of their economy, they also continue to take necessary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A major component of this work is traditional contact tracing, a staple of public health surveillance where public health workers track down and notify anyone who might have contact with someone who tested positive for an infectious disease. However, new strategies that would supplement traditional tracing have been gaining momentum. Read More »

States Support Rural Hospitals While COVID-19 Highlights Challenges

June 24, 2020|4:24 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and magnified the factors leading to rural hospital closures across the country. In many parts of the country, elective procedures were suspended to conserve critically needed personal protective equipment and to reduce COVID-19 exposure by patients and hospital staff. But for many rural hospitals, the suspension of elective procedures—combined with the reduced the use of non-urgent services by apprehensive patients—meant a loss of revenue and the furloughing of healthcare staff. Unfortunately, these kinds of challenges are not new to rural hospitals. Read More »

Ensuring Safe Access to Oral Healthcare During COVID-19

June 24, 2020|9:27 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

June is Oral Health Month, and it’s important to remember that dental care and the oral health workforce have also been tremendously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the midst of stay at home orders, nationwide closures, and related employment loss, people have largely put their oral health on the back burner. Read More »

Avoiding Lyme Disease as Americans Get Outdoors this Summer

June 17, 2020|4:37 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

As states begin relaxing stay at home orders and implementing phased processes of reopening public establishments and parks, more Americans are enjoying the outdoors. In order to maintain recommend distance from others, many people are likely to spend time in public or state parks. While these activities may help to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it does increase individuals’ exposure to Lyme disease, one of the most common vector-borne diseases in the United States. Read More »

Why Routine Immunizations are a Must—Even During a Pandemic

June 11, 2020|3:54 p.m.| Angela K. Shen, ScD, MPH

The public health response to COVID-19 is vital to saving lives. However, among the many disruptions of this novel virus as we practice social distancing is the disruption of important, "everyday" health services, including declines in immunization coverage. While receiving a routine vaccination last month, it made me think about the many provider practices that have not been able to stay open, and the health systems scrambling to temporarily transform their practices into functional telehealth machines—even though some services, like immunizations, require face-to-face visits. Read More »

The Importance of Addressing Breastfeeding Policies in Health Equity Work

June 11, 2020|12:35 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Breastfeeding has long been considered the gold standard in postnatal care for both mom and baby. Health benefits of breastfeeding include reduced risks of asthma and obesity for babies and a lower risk of high blood pressure and breast cancer for mothers. Unfortunately, systematic barriers can make it difficult for some women to initiate and continue breastfeeding through their infant’s first year. These barriers include lack of support from a woman’s partner, family, hospital, or workplace. Read More »

Leading Health Equity in a Time of Upheaval

June 04, 2020|4:15 p.m.| Mary Ann Cooney, MPH, MSN | Chief of Health Equity

As a lifelong public health professional, I am troubled by the opportunities I missed to better address racial injustice. How could I have better described the impact that racism has on health? What programs did we develop that could have been more focused on health equity? Were the policies we created more harmful than helpful from an equity standpoint?. Read More »

I Can't Breathe

June 04, 2020|3:45 p.m.| Ed Ehlinger, MD | Past-President of ASTHO

Having millions of people in our country feeling that they don’t belong is an existential threat to our society. In response, public health efforts must foster meaningful participation by everyone in the design, creation, and implementation of our political, social, and cultural structures and policies. Community engagement and community organizing must become core public health functions with individuals and institutions being accountable to each other. Sharing of power, having community members at decision-making tables, and effective inclusion of a wide range of voices, opinions, and ideas will be key to success. Our new way of doing public health work must begin immediately and we should all hold our breath until everyone can breathe. The healthy air of belonging, equity, and social justice will be our tribute to the memory of George Floyd, the elder choking on particulates, the asthmatic girl missing school, the immigrant meatpacker, the lynching victims, and all the protesters demanding to be part of an equitable, just, and healthier future. Read More »

How to Address COVID-19 in Communities of Color

June 03, 2020|10:46 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

The statistics of who is dying from COVID-19 paint a glaring picture and highlight the ever-growing health disparities that exist in communities of color. The mortality rate for African Americans is 2.4 times higher than whites and 2.2 times higher for Asians and Latinos. In addition, although African Americans represent 13 percent of the U.S. population, they represent 25 percent of the deaths. This health disparity is also becoming more prevalent among Latinos, particularly in states and localities where a predominant number of "essential workers" are Latino. As it pertains to the Native American population, the effect on those communities is also troubling because local tribes suspended the services—like casinos and other private enterprises—that often fund vital community programs. Read More »

How States are Bolstering a Contact Tracing Workforce

May 27, 2020|12:55 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

As summer gets underway, some states are beginning to ease their community mitigation efforts for COVID-19 and allowing the cautious and partial reopening of social spots such as restaurant dining rooms, beaches, amusement parks, and summer camps. But more social interaction provides the coronavirus with the conditions it needs to continue its person-to-person spread. To help break the chain of infections, state and local health departments are conducting disease investigations and contact tracing, core tools of public health practice used to combat the spread of communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis, and sexually transmitted infections. These techniques are used to identify individuals who were exposed to the COVID-19 and gives them a chance to self-isolate or self-quarantine before passing it on to others. Read More »

Health Equity During COVID-19: Top Strategies for an Equity-Focused Recovery Strategy

May 21, 2020|11:25 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the depth of health inequities in our country. Low-income and marginalized communities are experiencing a disproportionate burden in terms of both health outcomes and economic impact. At the same time, COVID-19 has reinforced the message that disease impacts entire communities and that we are all interdependent on one another. The pandemic has generated awareness of the importance of building community resiliency and brought about an influx of federal funding, which offers an opportunity to advance equity in prevention, social determinants of health, and healthcare. Read More »

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