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Data reveals that nearly one third of COVID-19 patients experience one or more post-COVID conditions that linger for weeks or months after infection. The cause, duration, and potential treatments for these conditions are still being investigated. As more information emerges, federal and state policies are beginning to support “long-COVID” patients by clarifying how post-COVID conditions correlate to disability benefits, workers compensation and protections, and supporting further research into the conditions.Read More »

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ASTHO and the National Council for Mental Wellbeing Address Public Health Workers

October 18, 2021|5:16 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

The executive leaders of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and the National Council for Mental Wellbeing take a moment to collectively acknowledge the incredible efforts that public health workers have taken to address the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Tomás J. Aragón

October 14, 2021|3:21 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Tomás Aragón, MD, DrPH serves as the director of the California Department of Public Health and the State Public Health Officer, since January 4, 2021. Prior to coming to CDPH, he was the health officer for the City and County of San Francisco and director of the public health division. In this post we discuss how COVID has impacted the Latino community. Read More »

What December Means for a Beloved Nutrition Program

October 14, 2021|2:04 p.m.| Carolyn McCoy, MPH | Brian Dittmeier

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children is a targeted public health nutrition program designed to support nutrition and health behaviors that reach low-income families. The program is funded through discretionary funds to the United States Department of Agriculture and administered by each state’s health or public health department. The department then contracts with county health departments, local health centers, hospitals, federally qualified health centers, and private nonprofits to deliver community-based clinic services. Read More »

Building Capacity and Dedicating Field Staff to Address Substance Use Disorders During COVID-19

October 14, 2021|1:15 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated barriers to care and treatment for individuals experiencing opioid use disorder. Experts estimate a record-setting 90,000 people died of a drug overdose in 2020. Additionally, as the pandemic continues, it has understandably diverted attention, funds, and personnel usually focused on the opioid crisis. State and local public health departments are experiencing an all-time low in staffing, especially among Maternal and Child Health programs. Read More »

States Explore the Relationship Between Partner Violence and Substance Use Disorders

September 30, 2021|1:43 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a critical moment to address intimate partner violence as a major public health threat. Intimate partner violence associated with substance use disorders and mental health challenges, and numerous studies indicate that people who are abused are more likely to use or become dependent on substances. The risk for all of these outcomes has been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read More »

Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, and COVID-19 Vaccines: Seven Things to Know

September 30, 2021|12:48 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

On Aug. 11, CDC updated its guidance on COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant or breastfeeding individuals. We’ve answered seven common questions about the new guidance and what it means for state and territorial health officials as they push to vaccinate more Americans. Read More »

Partner Spotlight: Q&A with Scott Becker, CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories

September 27, 2021|11:37 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Scott Becker is the CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL). He has taken APHL from a modest nonprofit focused on public health laboratory training to a center for quality laboratory systems with a budget of $75 million, a global reach, and wide-ranging programs and services. Becker is active in national and international public health initiatives. He chairs the Governance Working Group for the Global Laboratory Leadership Program, a collaboration with the World Health Organization, CDC, and others to develop a competency-based curriculum for laboratory leaders. Additionally, Becker is a member of the Affiliate Council of ASTHO, which he formerly chaired. Read More »

Health Policy Tackles Joint Challenges of Pandemic and Natural Disaster Preparedness

September 23, 2021|3:19 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Each September marks National Preparedness Month. This year, public health emergency preparedness professionals look back on 20 years since the 9/11 attacks—the event that effectively launched the preparedness field—while actively responding to COVID-19. Read More »

Pharmacies Are Critical to Pandemic Planning, Not Just Response

September 22, 2021|11:38 a.m.| Joanne Roth, Community Preparedness, Planning, and Response Section Manager at the Pennsylvania Department of Health | ASTHO Staff

Pharmacies have long been instrumental partners in providing lifesaving vaccines nationwide. As state and territorial health officials evaluate their COVID-19 response, planners must include input from the pharmacy community when identifying areas for improvement, as well as best vaccination practices in advance of future public health emergencies. Read More »

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 »

The Youth Mental Health Crisis: States Invest in Suicide Prevention, Intervention, and Postvention Strategies

September 01, 2021|5:43 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

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 »

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 »

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