Featured Story


Following disruptions to daily life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency departments saw an increase of mental health-related visits. A June 2021 study showed a significant increase of mental health-related visits among 12–17-year-olds compared to the previous year. States and territories that implement a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention across all domains of life—an approach known as the socio-ecological model—can reduce contributing risk factors.Read More »

See more featured stories »

Scarce Medical Resources Caused by COVID-19 Lead to Difficult Allocation Decisions

September 16, 2021|12:14 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

As the Delta variant spreads across the country and increases the number of COVID-19 cases, the strain it is placing on the nation’s health system continues to grow. The surge of COVID-19 patients is contributing to a shortage of the medications and equipment used to treat the disease. As these limitations grow, decisions will need to be made as to which patients receive resources and care and which patients don’t. To guide these decisions, policies called crisis standards of care are often established to maximize resource benefit and ensure they are distributed equitably. Read More »

Public Health Preparedness: Where We’ve Been, Where We Are, and Where We’re Going

September 09, 2021|12:35 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Each September, the United States observes National Preparedness Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness of public health preparedness. Preparedness—a field that readies our nation to respond to a range of emergencies—is a newer public health discipline, advanced by lessons learned from each response to a public health threat. While significant progress has been made over the past 20 years, the COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the need to strengthen state and local capabilities to address future emergencies. The history of public health preparedness is worth understanding, as each current and future response is impacted by lessons from the past. Read More »

FDA’s Approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine: Five Things to Know

August 31, 2021|3:17 p.m.| Meredith Allen, DrPH, MS | ASTHO Vice President, Health Security

On Aug. 23, the FDA announced full approval of Pfizer and BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine for COVID-19. ASTHO has answers to five key questions about the approval and what it means for state and territorial health officials: What does the FDA’s approval approve; what did we learn from the FDA’s safety and efficacy review; How long did the approval process take, and when could we see more FDA-approved vaccines; What does FDA approval mean for vaccine confidence; What does FDA approval mean for employer and university vaccine mandates. Read More »

The Importance of Family Engagement in Breastfeeding Programs

August 27, 2021|5:01 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Every August, national, state, and local breastfeeding stakeholders celebrate National Breastfeeding Month by engaging each other and the public in conversations about changes needed to build a landscape of breastfeeding support. The 2021 theme for National Breastfeeding Month is “Every Step of the Way,” which envisions a world in which all families are supported at every step along the infant feeding journey. Given evidence showing the crucial role of family members in influencing breastfeeding decisions, efforts to support breastfeeding must engage family members in addition to birthing people. Read More »

State Actions on COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements and Verification

August 26, 2021|3:50 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

As the COVID-19 Delta variant surges across the country, public and private employers have started instituting COVID-19 vaccination, testing, and masking protocols for their employees. On July 29, 2021 the White House announced that all federal employees would be required to be vaccinated or would have to comply with new masking rules, undergo weekly testing, and adhere to other mitigation measures. The administration also announced that nursing homes that fail to vaccinate staff will risk losing Medicare and Medicaid funding. Additionally, many private businesses—such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Tyson Foods—have announced that they will require employees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or undergo routine testing as part of employment. Read More »

Taking the Smoke Out of COVID-19

August 23, 2021|3:22 p.m.| Marcus Plescia MD, MPH | ASTHO Chief Medical Officer

While COVID-19 remains a top public health priority, the pandemic has also intensified the need for strong tobacco control policies and marketing campaigns. CDC recognizes current or former tobacco users as one of several groups at higher risk of severe illness, including hospitalization and death, after contracting COVID-19. It is distressing to see signs that our success in encouraging tobacco users to quit has been slowed over the past year-and-a-half. Fortunately, amid these challenges, many tobacco control groups have stayed focused. Read More »

States Address Pandemic-Linked Learning Loss Among Students With Disabilities

August 18, 2021|12:43 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

One of the major disruptions to daily life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was the rapid shift from in-person K-12 education to virtual learning. While necessary for social distancing and slowing the spread of disease, there is a concern that time away from traditional classroom environments has slowed student’s anticipated learning trajectory and milestones, resulting in what is referred to as learning loss. If left unmitigated, learning loss may result in lower educational achievement and poorer health outcomes in the future for current students, particularly students with disabilities. Read More »

The Changing Guidance and Requirements on Masks in Schools

August 10, 2021|1:50 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

This month, as children across the country return to classrooms, preventing COVID-19 outbreaks will be top of mind. Strategies to prevent infection, as recommended by CDC, include vaccination promotion, physical distancing, improved ventilation, contact tracing, COVID-19 screening and testing, handwashing reminders, as well as correct and consistent mask use. Of these recommendations, mask use in schools has become a hotly contested issue, especially as to whether masks should be required for students, teachers, and school staff. Read More »

Insular Areas Consider Variety of Public Health Related Legislation

August 05, 2021|11:39 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Each year, ASTHO tracks and analyzes key legislation that impacts public health, and highlights the emerging trends for our members. While the bulk of the tracked legislation arises in state legislatures, ASTHO also follows legislation from the territories and Freely Associated States, jurisdictions collectively referred to as the insular areas. The insular areas often face different challenges than the states, while also sharing many common concerns. This post contains a brief look at some of the public health related legislation introduced in the insular areas during their current legislative sessions. Read More »

Braiding and Layering Funding to Address Supportive Housing

August 02, 2021|4:04 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the intersections of social determinants of health, such as transportation, education, and housing, and their impact on the health of individuals and communities. As the moratorium on evictions ends in many parts of the United States, housing in particular looms as a potential public health crisis. Research has found that stable, affordable, and accessible housing has a direct and well-documented impact on physical and mental health outcomes, leading many public health professionals to raise the alarm that the pandemic has exacerbated the challenges surrounding housing—which may become more critical in the coming months. Braiding and layering funding is when government agencies and non-traditional partners collaborate and coordinate to combine different streams of funding to address social determinants of health. This post lists three examples where funding has been successfully braided or layered to support housing needs. Read More »

Youth Sports as a Protective Factor to Promote Resiliency

July 27, 2021|4:59 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Every year in mid-July is National Youth Sports Week—in 2021 it falls on July 19-23. It’s an important health observance because youth sports create strong connections with peers and caring adults, as well as promote socio-emotional skills and positive well-being. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s National Youth Sports Strategy outlines policies and strategies that support access to youth sports. NYSS Champions, including ASTHO, work to promote participation and recognize the positive health outcomes sports can have on youth, such as limiting the impacts of adverse childhood experiences and building resiliency. Read More »

How States are Using Policy to Reduce Maternal Mortality and Morbidity

July 21, 2021|7:00 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Approximately 700 women die annually in the U.S. between 2007-2016 as a result of pregnancy or its complications, according to CDC data. This is one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world. On top of that, there are stark disparities along racial lines, with Black and American Indian/Alaska Native women having higher rates of pregnancy-related deaths compared to white women. Read More »

The Impact of Broadband Redlining on Health Equity

July 21, 2021|6:20 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Access to quality internet may not be the first thing you think of when you think about health equity, but it is something that impacts many communities. The Federal Communications Commission reports that 19 million Americans still lack access to high-speed internet. As the COVID-19 pandemic proved, having access to a healthcare provider over your computer or phone is important if physically getting to your doctor’s office isn’t an option. Communities of color, older adults, people with lower educational levels, and families of low-income are more likely to experience limited digital access. Read More »

Inclusive Contracting: Successes to Advance Breastfeeding Equity

July 14, 2021|11:22 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Though now an illegal practice, government contracts, policies, and practices have generally excluded women, and Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Still, practices and existing structures continue the inequitable distribution of all contracts. Governmental and non-governmental grants and funding should benefit the communities they serve while being proportionate to the communities' demographics. This is where inclusive contracting comes in. It creates an environment for organizations owned and run by women and people of color to participate in a contract fully. To address institutional and structural barriers and to acheive sustainable change, funding announcements and contracts should recommend or, if possible, require a health equity focus, equitable funding opportunities, data collection, and evaluation and process measures. Implementing these recommendations or requirements can support multi-level, multi-sector transformational change to advance health equity. Read More »

The Importance of Preparing for Future Pandemics

July 13, 2021|10:56 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

As we enter COVID-19 recovery mode, we are in a moment of reflection on how we got here. However, lesson number one is that the COVID-19 pandemic was foreseeable and predictable. Yet, we found ourselves less than prepared as a country and global community. Fortunately, the best and brightest in the world are working toward improving our stance for the next, foreseeable, and predictable public health emergency, including ASTHO and its members. Read More »

2021 ASTHO Summer Reading List

July 12, 2021|11:11 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Last summer, we published our 2020 summer reading list to give your brain a break from the reality of 2020. Whether you needed to get lost in a piece of fiction or stay sharp with a work of non-fiction, we had your back. Now, as the world starts to open back up, we’re back with more recommendations. Are you finally heading out for that long-awaited vacation? Did quarantine ruin your attention span and now you finally have the bandwidth to pick up a book? No matter the occasion, here is our list of 10 books ASTHO staff loved this past year. Read More »

Resiliency, Communication, and Partnerships: Insights From the de Beaumont Foundation

June 30, 2021|11:07 a.m.| Mark Miller | Vice President of Communications, de Beaumont Foundation

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the de Beaumont Foundation has worked closely with organizations like ASTHO to support and strengthen public health. The foundation has produced several publications and guides to support public health leaders in their efforts to inform the public about COVID-19 and help build confidence in vaccines. Mark Miller, vice president of communications with the de Beaumont Foundation, shares insights into the foundation’s response efforts to COVID-19, and its partnership with key stakeholders. Read More »

Ending the HIV Epidemic: 40 Years of Progress

June 29, 2021|10:47 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

This June marked the 40-year anniversary of the first five cases of what later became known as AIDS reported in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Since then, more than 32 million people have died from the disease worldwide and nearly 38 million currently live with the HIV virus (including 1.2 million people in the United States). Over that period, tremendous strides have been made in HIV testing, prevention strategies, and treatment of individuals living with the virus to ensure that they can lead healthier and longer lives. While these advancements have led to significant progress in reducing HIV/AIDS-related deaths and new infection rates, HIV/AIDS continues to be a persistent problem in the United States. The federal government and state legislatures are taking significant steps toward ending the HIV epidemic, including steps to reduce new infections, combating stigma, and advancing access to care and HIV prevention. Read More »

Taking Care of the Public Health Workforce Post-Pandemic

June 25, 2021|10:03 a.m.| Amber Williams | Senior Vice-President, Leadership and Organizational Performance

More than half of public health workers have experienced a mental health condition this year, according to a new CDC study. The report, released Friday, describes the mental health impacts of COVID-19 on the workforce. Other studies have shown that there has been a considerable impact on the psychological wellbeing of front-line healthcare workers, as well as the general population, so it is not a surprise that COVID-19 has negatively impacted the mental wellbeing of public health workers. Read More »

See additional recent stories »