Featured Story


Though the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated public health over the past year, tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, accounting for over 480,000 deaths each year. State public health agencies have played a significant role in reducing tobacco-related disparities by supporting efforts to ban the sale of mentholated tobacco products. In April, FDA announced it would start taking steps to ban menthol flavored cigarettes and all flavored cigars within the next year. A ban on mentholated tobacco products is certainly a positive shift in favor of years of state and local efforts by tobacco prevention and control programs.Read More »

See more featured stories »

Increasing Naloxone Accessibility to Prevent Opioid Overdoses

June 16, 2021|4:38 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

With data showing the number of the opioid overdose deaths escalated during the COVID-19 pandemic, access to naloxone, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose, continues to be an important topic for policy makers. The number of laws and policies to increase access to naloxone have grown over the past several years. Policy makers across the country have expanded access to naloxone by allowing third-party prescriptions for friends, family, and other people who may encounter those at risk of an opioid overdose. Read More »

Public Health Highlights of President’s FY22 Budget Proposal

June 09, 2021|1:22 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In May 2021, President Biden released full details of the fiscal year 2022 budget. Overall, the budget request combines President Biden's American Jobs Plan, his American Families Plan, and funding priorities for the Pentagon and domestic agencies, for a projected total of $6 trillion. Read more about what the president is proposing in this post. Read More »

How Medicaid Can Bounce Us Forward into Equitable Healthcare

June 08, 2021|7:56 p.m.| Lindsey Browning | Program Director for Medicaid Operations at National Association of Medicaid Directors

It’s been found that one in three individuals who contract COVID-19 will experience lasting mental health impacts, according to a recent study. This startling discovery underscores the reality facing our nation: the challenges of this last year – the public health and economic ramifications of COVID-19, coupled with the longstanding racial and ethnic inequities that it highlighted – will be felt for years, if not decades, to come. Read More »

Strengthening Protective Factors in ACEs Prevention With Medicaid 1115 Waivers

June 02, 2021|4:58 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Adverse childhood experiences are potentially traumatic events that can disrupt a child’s sense of safety, stability, and bonding, leading to long-term developmental issues and negative health outcomes. State and territorial health agencies can address this public health issue by enhancing protective factors and reducing risk factors that address structural inequities (e.g., access to basic needs, housing, food, mental/behavioral, and primary healthcare). By promoting systems-level prevention strategies, like strengthening economic support and improving affordable housing approaches for families, state and territorial health agencies can prevent adverse childhood experiences. Read More »

Showing Gratitude to Our Public Health Workers

May 27, 2021|4:07 p.m.| Michael Fraser, PhD | ASTHO Chief Executive Officer

As we head into the Memorial Day weekend and honor the members of our armed forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and its freedoms, it is also important for us to give thanks to public health workers for being a shining example of what it means to lead in the face of a crisis. Read More »

Promoting Mental Well-Being in a Post-Pandemic World

May 26, 2021|12:09 p.m.| Colleen Carr | Director of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention at Education Development Center

Although suicide was a critical public health issue in the U.S. long before the COVID-19 pandemic began, Americans are now reporting increased mental health challenges like depression, anxiety, and suicidal behaviors. In addition, millions have experienced financial hardships, social isolation and loneliness, and increased stress—all of which are shared risk factors for mental health conditions, suicidal behaviors, and substance misuse. State public health officials have taken bold action over the past 12 months to mitigate the physical impacts of COVID-19, and the same swift action should be applied to mitigate the acute and potential long-term mental health, suicide, and substance use impacts. The National Response’s "An Action Plan for Strengthening Mental Health and Prevention of Suicide in the Aftermath of COVID-19" provides a roadmap for addressing the mental health, suicide prevention, and substance misuse prevention needs spurred by COVID-19. Read More »

COVID-19 and Beyond: Improving Youth Mental Health Outcomes and Disparities

May 25, 2021|12:22 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted both the physical and mental health well-being of youth. Disruptions in both their home and school life have put youth at risk for poor mental health outcomes that include increased anxiety, depression, and risk of suicide. This Mental Health Month we examine state and territorial legislation that addresses youth mental health. Read More »

Shifting Legal Landscape of Public Health and Places of Worship

May 20, 2021|10:40 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Reconciling the tension between public health and civil liberties is one of the most significant challenges of public health law and ethics. The Supreme Court of the United States historically upheld state authority to enact and enforce public health laws that temporarily limit a person’s civil liberties, such as quarantine and isolation powers that restrict a person’s freedom of assembly in order to prevent the spread of contagious disease. There have been many legal challenges to the public health orders issued to slow the spread of COVID-19—many of the claims asserting violations of First Amendment rights of assembly, association, and expression—but they’ve largely been rejected by the courts. However, courts have treated claims asserting violations of the free exercise of religion more favorably, which may indicate an impending shift in how courts analyze the impact state and territorial actions may have on religious organizations. Read More »

7 Things to Know About Recent Federal Actions and Opportunities to Improve Maternal Health

May 12, 2021|11:53 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

While the Biden Administration and Congress have no shortage of immediate health issues to focus on, improving maternal health outcomes—particularly Black maternal morbidity and mortality—have become a priority for federal lawmakers. To make sense of what’s going on, ASTHO staff partnered with the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) to outline the seven things to know happening on the federal level right now. Read More »

Building a More Equitable Food and Nutritional Assistance System Post-Pandemic: Perspective From Feeding America

May 10, 2021|12:57 p.m.| Jadi Romero | Feeding America Senior Manager of Public Policy & Governmental Relations

The need for food and nutritional assistance is growing. Based on Feeding America’s food insecurity projections released in March, it is anticipated that 42 million people may experience food insecurity this year—up from 35 million pre-pandemic. The job loss in communities as businesses had to shut down or reduce capacity has left many families across the country relying on food banks. In fact, food banks in the Feeding America network distributed 6.1 billion meals to individuals and families during this pandemic, an increase of 43% from 2019. Many of the people who have fallen into food insecurity are experiencing it for the first time in their lives, as our food pantry partners across the country report that 35% or more of the people they’re serving today had never received charitable food prior to the pandemic. Read More »

State Actions on COVID-19 Vaccine Verification

May 06, 2021|11:40 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

With the number of COVID-19 vaccinations growing, some states are looking at their vaccination rates in determining when to loosen measures that mitigate the spread of COVID-19, such as venue capacity limits, business closure times, and masking requirements. As vaccinations allow businesses to reopen and customers to return, questions are arising about whether venues or services—especially those that bring people in close contact for long periods of times—such as retail stores, concert venues, entertainment venues, air travel, cruise ships, etc., can require patrons or customers to verify that they received a COVID-19 vaccine. So far, state policy makers have had mixed views on the issue. Read More »

Stronger Together: Six Strategies to Enhance Your State’s Suicide Prevention Infrastructure

May 06, 2021|11:33 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

This May, we recognize Mental Health Awareness Month and the importance of continued mental health promotion and suicide prevention efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we address the physical effects of COVID-19 through social distancing, mask wearing, and vaccination, we still need to prioritize mental health and wellbeing during and after the pandemic. A recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found increases in adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression (36.4% to 41.5%) and unmet mental health care need (9.2% to 11.7%) between Aug. 2020 to Feb. 2021. Read More »

Building More Equitable Health, Housing and Human Services Systems Post-Pandemic

May 05, 2021|10:33 a.m.| Frank Alexander, MPA

All too often, work in health, housing, and human services systems is siloed. However, when you move upstream and work together, these industries can address the root causes of health and social issues. If we continue to operate our systems in silos, responding with a crisis orientation, we will be unable to fundamentally improve the challenging conditions our communities face. We may be able to create the conditions for strong, thriving families and communities if we focus on strengthening community leadership and working across systems. Read More »

Supporting Infant & Child Immunizations During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Q&A with Dr. Michael Warren

April 29, 2021|3:51 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In recognition of National Infant Immunization Week, ASTHO and AMCHP interviewed Michael Warren, MD, MPH, FAAP, and Associate Administrator of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), for his thoughts on how we can protect our infants and children from vaccine-preventable diseases during this extraordinary time. Especially now, as COVID-19 vaccination expands across the country—including the hope for a vaccine for children (five years and older), and with the promise of a return to in-person education, families and communities must quickly catch up on missed vaccinations. Read More »

What’s Next for Telehealth: States Try to Make COVID-19 Telehealth Options Permanent

April 29, 2021|2:59 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, temporarily expanding the use of telehealth technologies by removing various requirements and waiving certain restrictions. Many states also expanded telehealth access through changes to state Medicaid laws. These temporary policy changes created an uptick of telehealth use that improved access to care for millions of Americans—but questions remain about which policy changes will stick around beyond the pandemic. Currently, states are making decisions about what temporary policies to permanently implement and which policies to end without disrupting the delivery of care and further exacerbating health disparities. Read More »

STD Awareness Month Highlights a Rise in Rates for Sixth Straight Year

April 28, 2021|4:41 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Though COVID-19 has dominated public health over the past year, other communicable diseases are still occurring at troubling rates. The CDC recently released data in their Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance, 2019 report, showing that the reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis continued to increase for the sixth consecutive year and are among the most reported diseases in the United States. As STD Awareness Month comes to a close, below is a breakdown of key takeaways from CDC’s surveillance report and tips for how state health officials can address rising STD rates through leadership, communications, and policy. Read More »

Partnerships for Environmental Health Challenges Show the Way Forward

April 28, 2021|10:05 a.m.| Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, PhD | Acting Assistant Administrator| EPA Office of Research and Development

Last month, I had the pleasure of joining ASTHO’s Vice President for health security, Meredith Allen, EPA Administrator Michael Regan, and the president of the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) Patrick McDonnell at the ECOS Spring Meeting. The event marked the start of a strong state-federal relationship under the new EPA leadership, highlighted by the extension of a formal Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) reaffirming a partnership between our three organizations to advance cooperative initiatives in pursuit of environmental health. Read More »

Who Are the Vaccinators? A Look at the Vaccination Workforce

April 21, 2021|1:35 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

As the U.S. continues to undertake the largest vaccination campaign in almost a century, it has required government at all levels to surge workforce capacity. The federal government, states, territories, and local jurisdictions are acting to meet the immediate demand for vaccination as well as expand the long-term vaccination workforce. Looking ahead, expansion of the vaccination workforce long-term will help support potential COVID-19 booster shots and expand vaccine access broadly. Read More »

Public Health Infrastructure Proposals Gain Steam in Congress

April 15, 2021|1:56 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the consequences of decades of underfunding. To ensure we are better prepared for future pandemics and biological threats, we must consider the long-term investments required to bolster our public health infrastructure and workforce. Read More »

See additional recent stories »