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George S. Patton famously said, “prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.” While military strength is not how public health approaches its work, there is still a lesson we can learn from that statement. 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 »

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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 »

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 »

States Consider Role of COVID-19 Vaccination for School Enrollment

June 23, 2021|10:22 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

This week might have marked the beginning of summer, but many policymakers and health officials have their eye on the upcoming school year and what that might mean in terms of getting students vaccinated against COVID-19. According to a recent MMWR, COVID-19 related hospitalizations among adolescents increased in March and April 2021, potentially related to increased circulation of new COVID-19 variants, changes in physical distancing, and a larger number of children returning to school or other in-person indoor activities. This increase indicates an urgent need for vaccination against COVID-19, which is currently authorized for use in youth as young as 12. Read More »

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

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 »

Putting Menthol on Ice

May 26, 2021|4:06 p.m.| Marcus Plescia MD, MPH | ASTHO Chief Medical Officer

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 »

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 »

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