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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 »

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State Policy Actions to Support Long-Term Care Facilities During COVID-19 Response

October 21, 2020|5:16 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

As COVID-19 emerged and spread in the U.S., those working and residing in long-term care facilities (LTCF) have experienced a significant burden of COVID-19 cases and deaths. As of Oct. 8, deaths associated with LTCF account for 40% of total COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. LTCF are at increased risk for outbreaks due to limited infection prevention and control capacity, staff who travel to work at multiple facilities—and during the COVID-19 pandemic—limited access to PPE. Additionally, residents at LTCF are more susceptible to infectious disease outbreaks, such as COVID-19, due to aging, high rates of underlying chronic diseases, and congregant living environments. Read More »

Creating a 21st Century Legacy Toward Thriving Families

October 21, 2020|3:53 p.m.| Michael Fraser, PhD | CEO of ASTHO | Tracy Wareing Evans | CEO of APHSA

States grappling to ensure continuity of services amid the COVID-19 pandemic highlight a stark reality: the welfare of our nation’s children falls short of our collective aim to eradicate structural inequities among communities of color and low-income families. Swift action from public health and human services leaders to advance a collective vision that encompasses a prevention focused child welfare model is a critical opportunity for collaboration between public health and human service partnerships. Read More »

Education and Public Health: Supporting Youth Through COVID-19 and Beyond

October 15, 2020|3:05 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Toxic stress contributes to a variety of negative outcomes for children. And unfortunately, COVID-19 has increased the likelihood of children experiencing childhood trauma, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and toxic stress. States and territories should have programmatic, and policy mechanisms to both prevent and mitigate the lifelong effects. A CDC Vital Signs Report found that preventing or mitigating ACEs could reduce depressive disorder by 44%, smoking by 33%, and unemployment by 15%. Read More »

A Conversation With José Romero to Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month

October 14, 2020|12:34 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Hispanic Heritage Month takes place annually from September 15-October 15 to celebrate the history, culture, achievements, and influence of the Hispanic and Latinx community in the U.S. In recognition of this month, ASTHO interviewed one of our newest members, José Romero, MD, Secretary of Health at the Arkansas Department of Health. In this blog post, he speaks with us about how his experiences as a Hispanic working in healthcare have impacted him and his leadership style. Read More »

The Need for Modernizing Public Health Data in Responding to COVID-19

October 08, 2020|12:24 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Public health data collection and surveillance systems by health departments are in dire need of modernization. Though the public health community began developing a path to modernization over the last decade, attention to this issue from policy makers has sharply increased with the current response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only are current systems siloed, they rely on labor intensive processes to detect and facilitate a response to various public health threats. Read More »

Tick-Borne Disease Warning Signs in State Parks

October 01, 2020|3:57 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Though late spring and summer is considered “tick season,” ticks are still a threat in the fall as many areas of the country continue to see temperatures that ticks can thrive later and later in the year, and as people continue to get outdoors and enjoy their state parks. Read More »

How States are Handling School Vaccination Requirements in a Pandemic

September 23, 2020|10:10 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Conditioning school attendance on student vaccinations is an evidence-based way of maintaining and increasing vaccine coverage. State law establishes school vaccination requirements which apply not only to public schools but often to private schools and childcare facilities as well. All states allow an exemption for those where a vaccine poses a medical risk. Several states also allow non-medical exemptions, often based on an asserted religious, philosophical, or personal belief of the parents or child opposing vaccinations. However, a few states have recently abolished all non-medical exemptions. Read More »

Prepping for Dual Disasters of COVID and Extreme Weather Events

September 22, 2020|12:52 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In a year of unprecedented events, these past few months have already shown that they do not exist in a vacuum. While the country continues to respond and cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, many extreme weather events have already occurred and will continue for the next several months. Some have been widely publicized, like Hurricanes Isaias, Laura, and Sally, and the wildfires along the Pacific Coast. Other less publicized events have been equally devastating to the impacted communities. These include the Derecho in Iowa, wildfires across the Mountain West, heat and drought throughout the Midwest, and earlier than anticipated frosts, freezes, and snowstorms. There are also additional infectious disease challenges including the vector-borne Eastern Equine Encephalopathy in the Midwest and the looming flu season. Responding to these events in the current circumstances presents unique challenges to responders and communities, and due to the continued changes to our environment, we will have longer hurricane seasons and longer wildfire seasons in the future. Read More »

COVID-19 Pandemic Underscores Need for Tobacco Control Policies

September 16, 2020|4:20 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

The COVID-19 pandemic has further amplified the need for strong tobacco prevention and cessation policies. Research indicates that tobacco use is associated with increased rate of COVID-19 disease progression and increased likelihood of death among hospitalized patients, and that e-cigarette use is associated with a greatly increased risk of COVID-19 diagnosis in youth and young adults. Read More »

A New Approach to Breaking the Cycle: Creating a Shift in Emergency Medical Services to Address Substance Use Disorder

September 15, 2020|1:00 p.m.| Timothy Seplaki, BS, NRP, CPM

If EMS can change the perception of patients with Substance Use Disorder, they will see that building rapport and encouraging the patient to seek help from resources they provide can be mutually beneficial. For EMS, it reduces the call volume, and often the financial cost, of repeated responses for the same patient—and the patient gets the help they need to break the cycle of substance dependence. Read More »

The Role of Public Health in Reducing Suicide Risk During COVID-19

September 10, 2020|11:23 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

COVID-19 has elevated our nation’s stress level. When not managed properly (or without any buffers like social support) stress is associated with increased depression and anxiety. Because COVID-19 impacts risk factors for suicide, such as depression, anxiety, substance misuse, and unemployment, the implications for suicide prevention are many. And with September being Suicide Prevention month, it’s a good time to take stock of how public health leaders can reduce suicide risk during this pandemic. Read More »

States Take Action to Expand Access to PrEP Through Telehealth

September 08, 2020|5:27 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

State and local jurisdictions are developing Ending the HOV Epidemic plans. The EHE initiative has largely focused on four key strategies: Diagnose, Treat, Prevent, and Respond to potential outbreaks. The EHE initiative set a goal to increase the estimated percentage of individuals with indications for PrEP who have been prescribed PrEP to 50 percent by 2025, as the national average as of 2018 is 18.2 percent. Several states have proposed and/or passed legislation to ensure insurance coverage of PrEP and/or to allow pharmacists to prescribe and dispense it. In addition to efforts addressing cost-related challenges, states can also employ innovative approaches—such as telehealth—to expand access to PrEP services to those in need. Read More »

What is Nootkatone? A Primer on the New Tool to Defend against Mosquitoes and Ticks

September 03, 2020|4:20 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Every state and US territory are at risk of vector-borne diseases. This year, dengue cases are on the rise in Puerto Rico. Florida has also reported locally transmitted cases of dengue this year. We are already seeing record numbers of cases in the Americas and the Caribbean, with 2019 seeing the highest number of cases on record in the Americas. Numbers of tickborne diseases continue to climb this summer, with Lyme disease continuing to be the most reported vector-borne disease in the US. Read More »

Health in the 2020 Political Party Platforms

September 02, 2020|10:16 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

In anticipation of the upcoming presidential election in November, the Republican and Democratic National Committees released their platforms. These platforms provide an overview of values, policies, positions, and principles on various domestic and foreign issues deemed most important to the two political parties. For the upcoming 2020 elections, delegates of the Republican National Committee (RNC) approved a resolution that renewed support for the platform adopted in 2016 and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) approved a 2020 platform. Although both platforms touch on a diverse list of issues, there are several that are of interest to health and public health. Read More »

Updated Rundown of State and Territorial COVID-19 Mask Requirements

August 26, 2020|3:53 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Several states and territories, as well as many local governments, are going beyond recommendations and requiring individuals to wear face coverings when they are in public settings and spaces (i.e. grocery stores, retail stores, restaurants, public and private transportation services, parks, etc.). Ongoing research and evidence suggests the relationship between mandatory face coverings and declines in daily COVID-19 growth rates is statistically significant. Read More »

Behind the PSA: Making the #MaskUp Campaign

August 20, 2020|9:58 a.m.| Michael Fraser, PhD, CEO of ASTHO | Chrissie Juliano, MPP, Executive Director of the Big Cities Health Coalition

Last week, the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) released a co-produced public service announcement to support public education in our members’ communities. The call to action in the PSA is straightforward: Americans need to put aside our respective differences and, simply, #MaskUp. Read More »

States Seek to Protect the Workers Who Feed America

August 19, 2020|6:26 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Responsible for planting, growing, harvesting, processing, and preparing the food we eat, agricultural workers are essential workers during the COVID-19 response to keep the U.S. food supply chain operating efficiently. But farmworkers are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 due to lack of physical distancing, lack of access to health insurance and sick leave, and poor access to clean water for handwashing throughout the work day. Read More »

What Gets Measured Gets Done: Using Data to Improve Child Health and Well-Being

August 19, 2020|1:45 p.m.| Reem Ghandour, DrPH, MPA

As policy makers, program directors, health care providers, educators, researchers, and families, we know the intrinsic value of optimizing the health of our country’s youngest members. Most of us can also agree that monitoring the health and well-being of our nation’s infants, children, and adolescents is an important component to maximizing health across the lifespan—we have to know what’s affecting these populations in order to improve and meet both our short—and long-term health goals as a nation. It is critical that we can closely track trends in children’s health over time, and to explore data across subpopulations to identify disparities. These data sets help assess the health impacts of emerging threats, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and longstanding challenges, such as systemic racism. Read More »

4 Lessons From Planning an All-Virtual All-Staff Week

August 12, 2020|5:00 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

The importance of having designated time for staff to connect, grow, develop and share has always been the driving force behind the decision to host “ASTHO Week,” a three-and-a-half daylong all-staff convening every quarter. Given our current work environment, having this time together seems necessary now, more than ever. So in the midst of the pandemic and our full-time telework, here’s what our team learned about planning a 100 percent virtual ASTHO Week. Read More »

State Legislation to Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis and Address Institutional Racism

August 12, 2020|2:03 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

The movement to address racism through policy change in the U.S. is receiving significant political support at every level of government. Government institutions are acknowledging the systemic oppression of people of color that persists in the United States and elevating racism as an urgent public health emergency comparable to other public health crises. Read More »

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