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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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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 »

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 »

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