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Developing a Roadmap for Public Health Informatics and Data Strategy

Designing HIV Systems for the Margins slideOn July 15, ASTHO hosted a webinar spotlighting research gathered while analyzing several health agencies’ informatics strategic plans, initiatives, and roadmaps. The last decade has exposed major gaps in the public health informatics infrastructure, many of which have been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding constraints and limited strategic planning have left our public health systems siloed and ill-prepared to handle large-scale responses. Our speakers gave us new insights into how we tailored this evolving body of information to support the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) by developing a roadmap for its informatics strategic plan. We were joined by Subroto Banerji, CNMI’s chief operations officer, who detailed how his agency is using the roadmap to build up data and informatics capacity for the future.


Recruiting, Funding, and Training an Effective and Innovative Maternal Behavioral Health Workforce

Speaker portraits from Recruiting, Funding, and Training an Effective and Innovative Maternal Behavioral Health Workforce WebinarOn July 21, ASTHO teamed up with the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs to host a national webinar to hear from subject matter experts on effective and innovative strategies for building the maternal behavioral health workforce. We were joined by Joy Burkhard, founder and executive director of 2020 Mom, as well as Kay Matthews, found and executive director of Shades of Blue. Together, our speakers relayed insights and stories from careers spent investing in maternal behavioral health. The presenters also highlighted best practices in behavioral health workforce recruitment and retention, discussed traditional and non-traditional funding sources for maternal behavioral health, and shared innovative models and programs that address maternal behavioral health


ASTHO Hosts New Webinar: Designing HIV Systems for the Margins

Designing HIV Systems for the Margins slideOn July 12, ASTHO hosted a webinar to share approaches and promising practices for addressing disparities in HIV care. The presentation highlighted an exciting new model, Design for the Margins, which provides promising new blueprints for designing HIV systems through a health equity lens. Our participants learned more about the ongoing, nationwide efforts to apply principles from this model in HIV programs to reach populations that are currently out of care. We also took a deep dive into the current data, which reveals stark disparities in HIV diagnoses and care available for marginalized and vulnerable communities. "In 2018, Black and Hispanic populations accounted for 42% and 27% of all new HIV diagnoses, respectively,” said Tequam Tiruneh, senior analyst of clinical to community connections at ASTHO. “In the same year, 69% of all new diagnoses were gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men.” ASTHO is dedicated to ending HIV care disparities and is excited to continue its work in this space.


ASTHO Convenes the Workforce and Recovery Think Tank

Speaker portrait from 2021 Workforce and Recovery Think TankOn June 29, ASTHO convened the first-of-its-kind Workforce and Recovery Think Tank to build a vision for the public health workforce of the future. Following Congress’s move to pass unprecedented levels of funding for immediate and long-term investment in the public health workforce, ASTHO brought together public health professionals from across the nation to discuss the vital next steps. We kicked off the event with a keynote address from philanthropic futurist Trista Harris, who shared tools for becoming future-focused leaders. Following the keynote, a panel discussed and contextualized recommendations for applying these ideas in practice. The panel featured top public and experts from a range of backgrounds, including LaQuandra Nesbitt (SHO-D.C.); Matt Garrett, senior manager at Deloitte Consulting; Pam Pontones, deputy state health commissioner at the Indiana State Department of Health; and Anand Parekh, chief medical advisor at the Bipartisan Policy Center. Following the panel, participants had the opportunity to connect with each other in small group conversations surrounding individual trends expected to impact post-pandemic workforce needs and solutions.


ASTHO Convenes Experts Around Strengthening Vaccine Confidence

Portraits of Wilhelm, Smyser, and William-SkinnerOn June 28-29, ASTHO hosted our Strengthening Vaccine Confidence virtual meetings, an opportunity for partners and experts to come together to discuss approaches to improve vaccine confidence. The meetings convened partners from diverse backgrounds to better understand emerging best practices and generate ideas for applying those practices in communities, beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Speakers included Elisabeth Wilhelm, global immunization division at CDC; Joe Smyser, CEO at The Public Good Projects; and Barbara William-Skinner, CEO and co-founder of Skinner Leadership Institute. Our experts shared their experiences during the pandemic, discussed methods to address vaccine hesitancy, and reflected on the importance of building relationships with trusted community leaders. Day one of the event focused on providing information on approaches to improve vaccine confidence through partnering opportunities, while day two was dedicated to gathering partners’ perspectives on methods to improve and expand agency collaboration. The information collected over the event will be incorporated into an ASTHOBrief to inform health agencies of practical strategies to improve trust, communicate effectively, and advance policies around improving vaccine confidence.


Continuing the Conversation Around PFAS in Drinking Water

Slide for PFAS Risk Communication and DialogueOn Wednesday, June 23, ASTHO, in partnership with the Environmental Council of the States, the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues, and RESOLVE, hosted the second session in a three-part discussion series on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. The session was attended by state and territorial environmental health directors and state environmental agency directors. The meeting focused on PFAS risk communication and dialogue, and featured presentations and a panel-style discussion from Melissa Harclerode, sustainability and green cleanups discipline leader at CDM Smith; James Kelly, environmental health manager at the Minnesota Department of Health; and Laurene Allen, co-founder of Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water and founding member of the National PFAS Contamination Coalition. Discussions between panelists and participants centered around the key principles of risk communication, the importance of collaborating with other agencies and partners engaged in PFAS-related activities, and strategies for building trust with community stakeholders. The other sessions in this three-part series are centered on environmental justice and science-based state PFAS regulations.


Process Improvement Updates from the Atlantic Territories

Portraits of Ortiz, Pagan, and Monell-HewittLast week, ASTHO hosted a webinar to share best practices and lessons learned from a multi-year, business process improvement project conducted with the U.S. Atlantic territories to improve federal grants management and spend down of funds. We heard from Lizbeth Ortiz and Gustavo Pagan of the Puerto Rico Department of Health, as well as Tatia Monell-Hewitt of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health. Our speakers drew from their extensive backgrounds in finance, grants, and process improvement to share what steps their agencies are taking to optimize their business models and processes. Experts presented on the results they have observed, and the many possibilities for improving internal administrative processes uncovered through the technical assistance and capacity building initiative. The webinar recording is available now on ASTHO’s e-Learning Center.


ASTHO and CDC Co-Sponsor 2021 Overdose Data to Action Recipient Meeting

OD2A Level of Jurisdiction Funding Map (2021)From June 22-23, CDC and ASTHO co-sponsored the 2021 Virtual Overdose Data to Action (OD2A) Recipient Meeting, Intersecting the Drug Overdose Epidemic and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Challenges and Opportunities. This two-day meeting brought together OD2A recipients to discuss innovation, successes, and best practices that support overdose prevention and surveillance efforts through networking, breakout sessions, poster sessions, and presentations. Over 1,200 registrants attended the event, which featured over 30 didactic sessions, 55 posters, and 18 structured networking rooms that highlighted the work of OD2A recipients and partners. Keynote speakers included Grant Baldwin of CDC, ASTHO CEO Mike Fraser, Luke Tomsha of The Perfectly Flawed Organization, Shannon Robinson of Health Management Associates, and OD2A CDC leadership. With the national drug crisis being accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, the two-day meeting gave OD2A leaders and workers the opportunity to convene around some of the most urgent challenges facing overdose prevention today.


Data for Communication: Telehealth as a Public Health Strategy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Portrait of Gillian SteelFisherOn June 17, ASTHO hosted the last installment of the Data for Communication series, a collection of public health communication webinars focused on the release of COVID-19 health opinion survey results. This webinar was led by Gillian SteelFisher from the Harvard Opinion Research Program, who shared results of two recent polls focused on the opinions of primary care physicians and their patients around telehealth during the pandemic. Findings showed that both physicians and patients had positive experiences with video- and audio-based visits during the pandemic. However, both groups preferred in-person visits over video- or audio-based visits in the long-term. To continue to support telehealth as a public health strategy, SteelFisher suggested that physicians continue to reinforce the value of telehealth as a tool to increase access to care during emergencies and reduce the risk of viral transmission. SteelFisher also emphasized that although telehealth is unlikely to be a foundation for most primary care physician’s practices, it is beneficial to have as an ongoing option, especially when considering future public health emergencies. The Data for Communications webinar series is a joint effort between ASTHO, the National Public Health Information Coalition, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, with support from CDC.


ASTHO Hosts Deskside Briefing on COVID-19 Vaccination Push

Composite portraits of Nirav Shah, Lee Norman, and Elke Shaw-TullochOn June 16, ASTHO hosted a deskside media briefing on the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination push, featuring ASTHO President Nirav Shah (SHO-ME), Elke Shaw-Tulloch (SHO-ID), and Lee Norman (SHO-KS). Following President Biden’s announcement of a national goal to administer at least one vaccine shot to 70% of the U.S. adult population by July 4, state health officials have been steadfast in their mission to vaccinate more Americans. Our members emphasized that states have not slowed down their pandemic response, as they continue extensive community outreach efforts to vaccinate more Americans. State health officials highlighted novel approaches they’ve taken to encourage vaccine uptake, from gift card incentives to making accommodations for people living with disabilities. Several states are dividing up large vaccine shipments into smaller lots, which can then be distributed to doctors' offices. Panelists emphasized the benefits of leveraging primary care physicians in easing people’s concerns. “People want to hear it from their doctor, their medical providers, people that they know and trust,” said Norman. Our members concluded the session by taking questions from the media on the specific vaccination challenges facing their states.


Healthy People 2030 Partnerships: Awareness to Implementation

Invite to Healthy People 2030 Partnerships: Awareness to ImplementationOn June 15, the ASTHO health improvement team in collaboration with HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion held a virtual workshop for state Healthy People coordinators and staff titled, Healthy People 2030 Partnerships: Awareness to Implementation. The workshop focused on Healthy People 2030 and Leading Health Indicators, a small subset of high-priority objectives selected to drive action toward improving health and well-being. Presenters included ASTHO President Nirav Shah (SHO-ME), who talked about the importance of Healthy People 2030 from a state perspective; Carter Blakey, deputy director of the HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, who examined the Leading Health Indicators; and David Huang, chief of the Health Promotion Statistics Branch in the Division of Analysis and Epidemiology for the CDC National Center for Health Statistics, who discussed integration of target setting methods into state health improvement plans. The workshop leaders then walked participants through an activity using an Leading Health Indicators to create a partnership map through an equity lens.


Expanding the Pathways to Population Health Framework

Expanding the Pathways to Population Health FrameworkOn June 7, ASTHO and Well-Being and Equity in the World convened state health agency staff, national partners, and individuals with lived experience to provide feedback on how the Pathways to Population Health Framework could be adapted to satisfy a public health context. Participants discussed the importance of centering the revised framework on health and racial equity. Specifically, they engaged in conversation around the importance of including community members and people with lived experience into public health policy-making and leadership roles. A follow-up design session will be held on June 25. Interested state and territorial health agency staff may contact the population health and innovation team for further information.


ASTHO Convenes Roundtable of Government Leadership to Discuss COVID-19 Emergency Funding

Grouping of logos for three organizations: National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), National Governors Association (NGA), National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO)On June 3, ASTHO convened a roundtable of government affairs leadership from current ASTHO affiliates, non-affiliated organizations, and public health leaders to share perspectives, strengthen communication, and improve coordination among those with an interest in and responsibility for state and territorial public health leadership. Topics discussed included the impact of COVID-19 emergency supplemental funds on governmental public health agencies, public health infrastructure, and emerging public health priorities. Furthermore, representatives from the National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislators, and the National Association of State Budget Officers provided perspectives on concerns and considerations related to state spending of resources provided by the federal government to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.


ASTHO Launches U.S. Virgin Islands Interagency Business Process Improvement

USVI Participating Logos_Interagency Business Process ImprovementOn June 2, ASTHO convened U.S. Virgin Island (USVI) government agency leaders to discuss the launch of an interagency administrative process improvement project funded by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Federal partners, including CDC and the USVI Office of the Governor, made a call-to-action for USVI administrative and programmatic agency leaders to work collaboratively to improve federal grants management and spend down funds. The introductory meeting was the first step in preparing leaders to undertake business process improvements utilizing boundary-spanning leadership concepts to create direction, alignment, and commitment across agencies. The project builds upon similar work conducted with the USVI Department of Health to improve internal administrative processes to effectively spend down federal hurricane crisis funding.


The Impact of Telehealth in Incarcerated Populations on the Opioid Epidemic

Portraits of Michele Staton and Faye TaxmanOn June 1, ASTHO hosted a webinar for the Overdose Data to Action (OD2A) Learning Community on the utilization of telehealth services in supporting incarcerated populations, as well as on the potential impact of these services on the opioid crisis. Over the course of the webinar, we heard experience-backed insights from Michele Staton, professor at the University of Kentucky, and Faye Taxman, professor at the George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government. The presentations corresponded to work that OD2A recipients may be supporting through Strategy 6 (i.e. linkage to care) or Strategy 10 (i.e. innovative prevention strategies), and included several real-life examples of telehealth interventions at work. In one evocative example, presenters showcased the efforts of the Kentucky Women’s Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network, which is employing a telehealth approach that aims to expand evidence-based practices for treating substance use disorder into the justice system.


ASTHO Launches New Policy Academy Series

ASTHO Policy Academy slideOn May 19, ASTHO kicked off the first phase of the ASTHO Policy Academy with a 90-minute session led by our government affairs team. This first session provided a broad overview of the policy development process, using food safety policy as a case study. Participants overviewed the policy development process and developed new competencies to better leverage the policy process and become better informed about the biggest drivers of policy today. The Policy Academy aims to build and sustain the capacity of state governmental public health leaders and staff to advance health policy at the state level, as well as strengthen relationships within state agencies. Looking ahead, the next phase of ASTHO’s Policy Academy will take a deeper dive into specific food safety policies.


The Public Health Workforce: Immediate Needs and Long-Term Strategies

Three subject-matter experts' portraits: Jeanette Kowalik, Norman Oliver, Kathryn TurnerOn May 27, ASTHO cosponsored a webinar highlighting top workforce development strategies to meet a growing set of public health needs. To learn about these needs, we were joined by Norman Oliver (SHO-VA); Jeanette Kowalik, director of policy development at Trust for America’s Health; and Kathryn Turner, deputy state epidemiologist and chief of the Bureau of Communicable Disease Prevention at the Idaho Division of Public Health. With the America Rescue Plan including a $7.7 billion investment in the public health workforce, our panel discussed what this critical inflection point means for our health agencies today, as well as in the future. Out panel spoke to the evolving impacts of COVID-19 on government priorities, how the public health workforce has evolved in the last year, and how state and local agencies can continue to achieve their missions in a post-pandemic world through enhanced workforce strategies and investments. In particular, our speakers emphasized the rising need to rapidly recognize and make long-term decisions on staff temporality, specialization, necessary skillsets, and deployment activities, as well as formalize telework plans and technology.


ASTHO Holds May 2021 ASTHO Week

Anne Zink (SHO-AK) on Zoom during the May 2021 ASTHO WeekFrom May 24-26, ASTHO hosted our second ASTHO Week of 2021. During our three-day virtual convening, ASTHO staff came together to take part in a busy week of shared training sessions and information-packed webinars. A snapshot of the week’s sessions includes a racial healing circle training, a lightning round on building a supportive at-home workspace, an optional group workout, a two-part informational session on LGBTQ+ health, and much more! To open the week, we heard from Japhet Rivera (alumni-PR) on the challenges of navigating a public health crisis from a territorial perspective. Throughout the week, we also heard perspectives from Lynn Gallagher (alumni-NM) and stories from the field from ASTHO President-Elect Anne Zink (SHO-AK). Health officials encouraged ASTHO staff to collectively take a step back and reflect on the legacy of public health that we are building together, particularly as we transition into a post-pandemic world.


Expanding Public Health Capacity Through Innovative Staff Solutions: Stories from States

WanderlyOn May 19, ASTHO hosted a webinar titled Expanding Public Health Capacity through Innovative Staff Solutions: Stories from States. The webinar featured Judy Monroe, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation; Cassandra Thompson, director of preparedness and disability integration at ASTHO; and Robert Longyear, vice president of digital health and innovation at Wanderly. ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser facilitated the conversation, which highlighted unique approaches to recruiting, hiring, deploying, and managing public health staff, as well as the partnerships that made it possible through the COVID-19 pandemic response. Access the recording online, and visit the StaffUP job board from ASTHO and Wanderly to see some of these approaches in action.


ASTHO Co-Hosts the Making Dialysis Safer for Patients Coalition Meeting

Making Dialysis Safer for Patients Coalition logoOn May 10 and 11, ASTHO, in partnership with CDC’s Division of Healthcare and Quality Promotion and the CDC Foundation, co-hosted the fourth annual Making Dialysis Safer for Patients Coalition Meeting. The coalition is a partnership of organizations and individuals that work together to improve infection prevention and control practices to protect dialysis patients. This year’s meeting was virtual and included representatives from federal, state, and local health agencies; dialysis delivery organizations; dialysis patient groups; certification organizations; and other organizations and individuals from the dialysis community.

On day one of the meeting, Denise Cardo, director of CDC’s Division of Healthcare and Quality Promotion provided welcome remarks. Judy Guzman-Cottrill of Oregon Health and Science University provided keynotes on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare infection prevention practices, and a panel of dialysis patients, providers, and organizations shared their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Day two of the meeting consisted of a series of breakout sessions that focused on infection prevention and control education, using data to drive action, special considerations in non-clinic settings, and ways to enhance coordination between state and local health departments for emergency preparedness. The meeting concluded with a summary of lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and the future direction of the coalition.


ASTHO Hosts Sponsor-Led Webinar from Sunquest on Trending Outbreak Technologies

SunquestOn May 13, ASTHO expanded on conversations from the COVID-19 TechXpo in a sponsor-led webinar from Sunquest, an organization specializing in providing diagnostic informatics solutions to laboratories worldwide. Throughout the pandemic, Sunquest has supported healthcare organizations with managing the demands associated with the COVID-19 outbreak by sharing tools to bolster business continuity and COVID-19 reporting. Presenters emphasized the role that data must play in disease surveillance and outbreak technology as we move beyond the pandemic and onto future challenges. Attendees then heard firsthand accounts of how California, Wisconsin, and the City of Los Angeles adjusted their data forms and processes to respond to the outbreak, and how the experience could inform future response efforts. Presenters also walked through the must-do’s when considering technology solutions for future pandemics and public health emergencies.


ASTHO Leaders, Members Speak at Health Information Technology Advisory Committee Meeting

HealthIT.gov logoOn Thursday, May 13, a panel of ASTHO leaders and member spoke at the latest Health Information Technology Advisory Committee meeting—a bi-monthly convening where health leaders discuss the intersect of health, technology, and governmental programs and make recommendations for progress. TechXpo keynote speaker Micky Tripathi (national coordinator for health IT, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology) kicked off the meeting with welcoming remarks. His words were followed by a panel discussion featuring ASTHO CEO Mike Fraser and ASTHO President-Elect Anne Zink (SHO-AK) titled Public Health Systems Performance During COVID-19: Big Picture Perspectives. From there, Google Chief Health Officer Karen DeSalvo, also a TechXpo keynote speaker, spoke on a panel covering technical infrastructure needs in the health landscape. Joneigh Khaldun (SHO-MI) rounded out ASTHO’s presence at the event in an afternoon session on the future of health technology: Creating the Public Health Ecosystem of the Future.


ASTHO Hosts Flexible Funding Academic Think Tank

O'Neill Institute logoOn May 11, ASTHO convened over 40 key state and national stakeholders to inform initial research on opportunities to braid and layer funding streams to advance population health across sectors. Experts from the O’Neil Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University presented initial research findings on opportunities for state and territorial health agencies to braid and layer funding across multiple streams to advance housing as a social determinant of health. Attendees were invited to review and discuss Georgetown University’s draft findings and make recommendations on resources for state health agencies. Attending partners included the National Association of Medicaid Directors, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the Corporation for Supportive Housing, and the National Council of State Housing Agencies, along with state health officials, senior deputies, chief financial officers, and legislative liaisons from state health agencies.


ASTHO Hosts Deskside Briefing on Vaccinating Adolescents Ages 12 to 15

Portraits for SHOs from Alaska, Maine, and Washington State (2021)On May 11, ASTHO convened state public health leaders to discuss plans underway across the nation to vaccinate the nation’s adolescents aged 12 to 15. ASTHO President Nirav Shah (SHO-ME), ASTHO President-Elect Anne Zink (SHO-AK), and Umair Shah (SHO-WA) addressed members of the media on the biggest hurdles facing states as they look to expand their targeted vaccination group. The briefing came just days before CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices made its recommendation to use the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in adolescents ages 12 and older. With children now accounting for 22% of COVID-19 cases in the United States, state health officials described distribution plans and discussed strategies for educating vaccine-hesitant parents. Health officials followed up their messages by taking questions from members of the media on the anticipated challenges of an expanded rollout.


ASTHO Hosts Ask the Experts Webinar with Communication Expert Barbara Reynolds

Barbara Reynolds portraitOn May 6, ASTHO hosted the next installment in our Ask the Experts communications webinar series, Rebuilding Trust in Public Health: A Fireside Chat with Nationally Recognized Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Expert Barbara Reynolds. In the latest event in the series, state and territorial public health leaders came together to hear a message from crisis and risk communication expert Barbara Reynolds. Reynolds, who served at CDC from 1991 to 2018, pulled from her extensive background in crisis communications to provide concrete steps for how health agencies can take advantage of this critical moment in public health to pivot their messaging and become an agency of the future. Reynolds shared and analyzed national data on the current levels of trust between the public and their health agencies, and offered her best practices for fostering and improving this key community relationship.


ASTHO Co-Hosts Maternal and Child Health COVID-19 National Partners Convening

ASTHO Co-Hosts MCH-COVID-19 National Partners Convening (April 2021)On April 26, in partnership with HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau, ASTHO hosted the Maternal and Child Health COVID-19 National Partners Convening. 65 representatives from states, national organizations, and federal agencies convened to share current activities, anticipate challenges, and explore opportunities for collaborative problem solving related to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and uptake in maternal and child health populations. Jim Blumenstock, ASTHO’s senior vice president of pandemic response and recovery, and Michael Warren, associate administrator at MCHB, provided welcoming remarks. Titilope Oduyebo and Karen Remley (alumni-VA) from CDC presented on the impact of COVID-19 during pregnancy, in pediatric populations, and on children with special healthcare needs. In the second half of the meeting, attendees participated in topical discussion groups, including around adolescent and school-aged children, pregnant individuals, and policymakers. The discussion groups provided attendees with the opportunity to discuss existing and anticipated challenges and identify areas for support and collaboration.


ASTHO Concludes Two-Part Expert Convening of School Behavioral Health Advisory Committee

Healthy Schools Campaign logoOn April 20 and May 6, ASTHO hosted a two-part expert convening for the School Behavioral Health Advisory Committee. Created through a partnership between ASTHO, CDC Healthy Schools Branch, Healthy Schools Campaign, and the Council of Chief State School Officers, the committee features national partner organizations and state education, public health, behavioral health, and Medicaid leadership working together to identify effective school-based behavioral health policies and programs. Toxic stress from the COVID-19 pandemic impacts youth mental health and emotional well-being, and, when combined with familial and economic stressors, can lead to risk behaviors and negative health outcomes. During the convening, the committee identified challenges in addressing youth behavioral health needs and discussed innovative opportunities around funding, partnerships, policy, and programs. ASTHO will use information gathered through the convening to develop a national report and engage six states in implementing cross-sector strategies for improving school-based behavioral health.


Disability and Preparedness Specialist Learning Community Discusses Vaccination Strategies for People Living with Disabilities

NCIL and Special Olympic logosOn April 27, ASTHO, in collaboration with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), hosted a session for the Disability and Preparedness Specialist Learning Community on partnering to vaccinate people living with disabilities. The disability and preparedness specialists are subject-matter experts embedded in state, territorial, and local health agencies who advocate for and protect the rights, health, and well-being of people living with disabilities in public health emergency preparedness. The learning community session convened ASTHO and NACCHO specialists with speakers from the Special Olympics and the National Council on Independent Living to share current work regarding vaccinating people living with disabilities, while facilitating new partnerships between specialists and disability organizations. The discussion spanned a wide range of topics, including COVID-19 vaccine advocacy and education efforts, identifying trusted partners to increase vaccine uptake, and leveraging partners for success in the vaccine rollout. This learning community session was one of 12 monthly learning community convenings to exchange knowledge, share best practices, and improve specialists’ ability to address the needs of people living with disabilities in preparedness planning, mitigation, and recovery.


ASTHO Hosts Sponsor-Led Webinar from Healthvana on Innovation of Health Record Systems

Healthvana cell phone digital app screenshotsOn April 29, ASTHO built on conversations from the COVID-19 TechXpo in a sponsor-led webinar from Healthvana, a health technology organization that is seeking to innovate the COVID-19 vaccine rollout with an easy-access digitial healthcare system. As the COVID-19 crisis revealed the failures and lapses in our data information systems, Healthvana saw an oppoturtunity to use modern technology, such as Apple Wallet, to break down major barriers and give people simple access to need-to-know information. Healthvana CEO Ramin Bastani told the story of how his organization partnered with Los Angeles County, the country’s largest county, to scale up and faciliate a mass-vaccination rollout, while communicating urgent COVID-19 updates to residents. Bastini noted that to date, Healthvana has delivered approximately two million digital vaccination records and has plans to deliver millions more across the country.


ASTHO Hosts Deskside Briefing on the COVID-19 Vaccine Response and Latest Updates

Shah, Zink, Esike, Stack Participate in COVID-19 Vaccine Response Deskside Briefing (April 2021)On April 21, ASTHO convened public health leaders for a deskside media briefing to discuss the latest updates and approaches for vaccinating the American population. Our panel of experts featured ASTHO President Nirav Shah (SHO-ME), ASTHO Vice-President Anne Zink (SHO-AK), Ngozi Ezike (SHO-IL), and Steven Stack (SHO-KY). The event was moderated by Jim Blumenstock, senior vice president of pandemic response and recovery at ASTHO. Health officials addressed recent news about vaccine supply, hesitancy among vulnerable populations, concerns surrounding the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and noteworthy trends in the COVID-19 response. Health officials shared their plans to improve vaccination accessibility by introducing new transportation measures, as well as exploring opportunities for walk-in vaccination appointments. “This will be much more of an intense ground game where we have to focus on smaller events more tailored to address the needs and concerns of focused communities who have different sensitivities and different needs,” said Steven Stack (SHO-KY). The briefing concluded with state health officials taking questions from members of the media on specific challenges pertaining to their jurisdictions.


Health Equity Summit: From the Field

COVID-19 TechXpo BannerOn April 21, ASTHO hosted the Prioritizing Equity in Public Health Leadership Summit. This meeting provided a virtual forum for state and territorial health practitioners to learn about emergent public health issues and apply evidence-based and promising practices to address structural racism and advance health and racial equity. See a recap of the day’s events below!



Welcome Remarks

Renee Branch Canady and Mike Fraser speak at Health Equity SummitTo kick off the day, we were met with opening remarks from ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser. Fraser highlighted ASTHO’s recent policy statement on structural racism as a public health issue and recognized the timing of the summit at a critical moment in the story of public health. Fraser then welcomed Michigan Public Health Institute CEO Renee Branch Canady to the summit floor, who spoke to the urgency of the issues on the table. “Today’s summit is taking place in the midst of a line being drawn in the sand,” said Canady. “I ask you: where do you stand on that line?” We then heard introductory words from CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. Walensky reminded us that to confront the challenge of dismantling racial and health inequities, we must begin by working together to name and deconstruct the inequities inherent in our health systems and practices.


Advancing Anti-Racism in Public Health

Professor Ibram X. Kendi speaking at the 2021 Health Equity SummitFollowing our opening session, we welcomed bestselling author Professor Ibram X. Kendi of the Boston University Center for Antiracism Research to the summit. Kendi was joined by Nicole Alexander-Scott (SHO-RI) in a conversation around the actions we can and must take today to end the racism at the policy-level and beyond. When asked what he believed to be an essential next step in advancing anti-racist ideals, Kendi emphasized the importance of developing and investing in predictive modelling and data systems. Data, Kendi reminded us, is the best determinant of whether anti-racist policies are in fact serving the communities they are designed to be supporting.

Kendi went on to share his striking vision for how the COVID-19 vaccine rollout could be reimagined to serve those populations most burdened by the pandemic. By structuring a vaccination hierarchy of need around social determinants of health and burden of disease, Kendi argues that we can get shots into the arms of those who face the greatest risk from the pandemic. As Kendi closed the conversation, he reminded participants of a critical truth that proved foundational to the day’s sessions: "Health equity work is life-saving work."


Breakout Block A: Advancing Upstream Policies to Achieve Equity

Slide on the impact of law and policy on health outcomesIn Breakout Session A, we were joined by Dawn Hunter from the Network for Public Health Law, Angie Allbee of the Oregon Health Authority, and Jeanette Kowalik of the Trust for America’s Health. The panel addressed top-of-mind issues surrounding the social determinants of health and their place in the world of policy and government. In particular, Kowalik spoke to the importance of providing authorization to create programs to improve the social determinants of health, which encompasses housing, school health, access to health services, economic well-being, criminal justice, public safety, and health promoting excise taxes.

Hunter presented on the importance of identifying policy solutions to advance public health, drawing special attention to infant death rates among white babies and babies of color. "All babies are suffering," said Hunter. "Indian and African American babies are just suffering even more so." She went on to argue that by helping infants of color, all infants will ultimately benefit. Lastly, Allbee shed light on “Healthier Together Oregon," a funding opportunity for minority groups in the state. "ealthier Together Oregon recognizes the state's history of white supremacy," shared Allbee. "It acknowledges that institutions need to change how they do business."

Breakout Block B: Centering Equity in Our Public Health Tools and Frameworks

Health Equity Speakers Vivian Lasley-Bibbs, Monica Bharel, Earl Nupsius Benjamin-Robinson, and Christopher J. AusuraIn Breakout Session B, our three presenters agreed on an overriding strategy for how to best seek out organizational change: ask the community. Our presenters agreed that the work of public health is better when the community is meaningfully engaged and the right questions are being asked. Open conversations about data while addressing social determinates of health inform strategy towards health equity protocols and provide direction to help people achieve their optimal health.

"Evidence-based resource allocation after asking what the community needs and the importance of not assuming we know" have been critical to success, noted Monica Bharel (SHO-MA). Speakers also shared different ways that we can begin to imagine equity, even beyond race. "Many factors affect health," said Earl Nupsius Benjamin-Robinson of the Louisiana Department of Health. "Equity is not just a Black and White issue. Yes, there are racial differences. But it can also be about men and women; rural and urban." Speakers recognized that prioritizing with each community on what is going well and what needs to be changed can make a significant difference, such that resources can then be allocated to the populations most affected.

Breakout Block C: States and Locals Working to Address Racial Equity

Mylynn Tufte speaking at the 2021 TechXpoIn Breakout Session C, we focused on resources and tangible ideas to address racial equity that can be addressed at the state and local levels. Robyn Taylor from the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors kicked off the session by urging that racial equity tools "must be designed to integrate explicit consideration of racial equity in decisions including policies, practices, programs and budgets."

Representatives from the Arkansas Department of Health and Public Health Madison and Dane County, Wisconsin outlined the lessons they learned from working with the health equity assessment tool, which was developed by the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors health equity council. Chychy Smith with Arkansas Department of Health went on to outline equity solutions that have worked well within her team, ranging from discussing health equity at executive meetings to implementing mandatory health equity, implicit bias training, and cultural competency training. Janel Heinrich with Public Health Madison and Dane County, Wisconsin also stressed the need for affinity groups within public health departments so that people of color have safe spaces to discuss issues among each other.

Breakout Block D: Prioritizing Equity in Data and Research

COVID-19 Race, Ethnicity & Disparities slide shown during Priority Equity in Data and Research Breakout SessionBreakout Session D took a deep dive into the importance of using data and research to address the root causes of health inequities. The session was moderated by Jamie Pina, vice president for public health data modernization at ASTHO. Panelists included Chandra L. Ford, professor at the Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice, and Health at University of California, Los Angeles; Tracy Hilliard, director of the Center for Culturally Responsive Engagement at the Michigan Public Health Institute; and Deitre Epps, CEO and founder at RACE for Equity.

As a starting point for the conversation, Hilliard made one point clear: "Always place the people who are most impacted at the center of conversations which seek to find solutions to problems affecting them." Panel members went on to share best practices for engaging communities and being intentional about how public health agencies can use data. "Collecting race and ethnicity data allows us to ask the right questions. But there needs to be more training related to the guidelines associated with data collection," said Ford. Panel members touched on health disparities illuminated by the pandemic, as well as the importance of incorporating intersectionality explicitly in research projects. "As gatekeepers of knowledge, data, and resources, we must ask ourselves the question: How are we upholding racism and racists institutional processes and practices that may have been handed down to us?" said Hillard. "Once we answer this question, we must move toward fixing these processes and practices."


Plenary Session: COVID-19, Chronic Disease, and Health Equity

Evolution of the Vaccine Credential session from the 2021 TechXpoThis plenary session highlighted the relationship between COVID-19, chronic disease, and equity. Karen Hacker, director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, opened the session with a reminder of COVID-19’s impact on chronic disease: 6-in-10 Americans live with a chronic disease, and 4-in-10 of them had to delay treatment due to the pandemic. On top of this, 73% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were living with a chronic condition.

Lisa Richardson, director of CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, noted that the full impact of the pandemic on chronic disease is yet to be known. "There are backlogs of patients who still haven't come in for routine checks on chronic diseases. How many have progressed to more severe stages of cancer? How many won’t get treated at all?" Susan Kansagra, chief of chronic disease and injury for the North Carolina Department of Public Health, noted that we must actively seek to collect data that will illuminate health disparities if we wish to enact real change.

The session closed with Magdala Cherry, a physician whose father passed away from COVID-19 after being turned away at his local hospital numerous times, calling for health leaders to “start by listening.” “Don’t assume we know all the answers just because we’re the experts,” Cherry said. “Listen to the lived experiences of people and let those stories drive change. How do we design a healthcare delivery system that meets peoples’ needs and treats them as individuals?”


Closing Panel: Bouncing Back Better: Envisioning an Equitable Post-Pandemic Future

TechXpo Virtual Exhibit Hall (2021)To close the day's event, we invited a panel of health equity leaders and subject matter experts to a forum to address one of the biggest questions moving forward: how can we bounce back stronger? In a dynamic and idea-packed session, Joneigh Khaldun (SHO-MI), Nicole Alexander-Scott (SHO-RI), Richard Besser of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Michael McAfee of PolicyLink shared their strategies for bouncing back better from the pandemic, while preparing ourselves for future disease outbreaks.

Khaldun called on the nation's leaders and lawmakers to get out from behind their desks and engage in meaningful conversations with the communities they serve. "We need people from the community at the table,” said Khaldun, speaking to the need to engage broader and more diverse community workforce. “We have to get out of our offices and have other people be part of the decision making.” Khaldun highlighted the importance of calling racism by name and recognizing it as such. “If you don't identify a problem, you are certainly not going to address it.” McAfee asked us to scrutinize the ways in which our systems are designed to work for and against communities of color. "It’s time for us to remake our democracy and economy,” said McAfee. “We possess the imagination to make that work. It’s time to do the long-term work to make this nation work for everyone."

 

Tracie Collins (SHO-NM) Testifies on Communicating Trusted COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Tracie Collins (SHO-NM)On April 15, Tracie Collins (SHO-NM) testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband in a hearing titled, Shot of Truth: Communicating Trusted Vaccine Information. Collins testified about New Mexico’s efforts to disseminate accurate, timely information about the COVID-19 vaccine safety to rural areas and communities of color. She also encouraged more Americans to get vaccinated and emphasized the impact of vaccinations on protecting yourself and loved ones. “During the past year, we held numerous virtual town hall events and launched our Trusted Voices campaign, which proved essential to continuing honest dialogue within our communities,” said Collins. “These programs, coupled with translating COVID-19 materials into many languages at appropriate health literacy levels, are invaluable in building vaccine confidence.”


ASTHO Hosts Webinar on Tackling Inequities in Digital Care

Slide Deck Tackling Inequities in Digital Care (April 2021)On April 12, ASTHO hosted a webinar, Tackling Inequities in Digital Care, which discussed state and community-level interventions to bridge the digital divide in healthcare and improve access to digital services for marginalized communities. Our panel of expert speakers emphasized the importance of providing services to older adult populations that improve digital literacy, while providing support to keep them socially connected by using other older adults as community mentors and guides. The session also discussed how states can partner with communities to coordinate and build platforms that increase access to telehealth, digital devices, and digital literacy training programs, and maximize federal investments to expand digital access. Speakers included Alexis Travis from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services; Lawrence Kosick, co-founder of GetSetUp; Craig Settles, industry analyst and expert broadband business strategist; Director Rose Jones from the Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging; and Maureen Maigret, long-term healthcare and aging services consultant.


ASTHO and AMCHP Co-Host Data Visualization Training for State and Territorial Health Agencies

Storytelling with Data (April 2021)ASTHO, in partnership with the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, recently hosted two virtual data visualization workshops for participants and partners of the Promoting Innovation in State and Territorial MCH Policymaking learning community. The two-day trainings were led by Storytelling with Data, and covered the five-part process of effective and compelling data visualization and presentation. Attendees learned about and practiced understanding the context of a data set, choosing an effective visual, eliminating clutter, focusing the reader’s attention, and telling a persuasive story. Multiple participants commented that learning effective data visualization would be especially impactful when engaging with policymakers and stakeholders. 65 participants representing five states, one territory, one federal agency, and two national organizations attended.


ASTHO Hosts Meta Leadership for Senior Deputies and Directors of Public Health Preparedness

ASTHO Hosts Meta Leadership for Senior Deputies and Directors of Public Health Preparedness (April 2021)ASTHO recently wrapped up a series of specialized training for senior deputy directors and directors of public health preparedness to strengthen crisis leadership in state and territorial health agencies. The three-part virtual workshop concluded on April 1 and will be followed by monthly group check-ins to support application of the leadership tools during COVID-19 response. Participants received the book, You’re It: Crisis Change and How to Lead When it Matters Most, upon which the series was based. Presenters Joe Henderson and Lenny Marcus, experts from the National Preparedness Leadership Institute at Harvard University, imparted easy-to-remember crisis leadership concepts and ideas. Concepts were often illustrated by examples from the presenters’ real-life experiences including Hurricane Katrina, the Boston Marathon bombings, and 9/11.


ASTHO Environmental Health Team Provides Update on Developments in Vector-Borne Vaccines

ASTHO Environmental Health Team Provides Update on Developments in Vector-Borne Vaccines (April 2021)On April 6, as part of our ongoing support for the National Association of Vector Control Officials, ASTHO’s environmental health team hosted a webinar updating attendees on the latest vector-borne disease vaccine developments. Our expert speakers included Susan Hills, medical epidemiologist in the Arboviral Diseases Branch at CDC, and Richard Marconi, professor of medicine in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. Speakers discussed updates around emerging vaccine technologies, vaccine development, and the use of existing vaccines for vector-borne disease, including both arboviral and bacterial diseases. Hills discussed currently available arboviral vaccines, as well as the status of additional arboviral vaccine development, while Marconi highlighted the science behind a veterinary Lyme disease vaccine and how it is being used in the development of a vaccine for humans.


LaQuandra Nesbitt (SHO-D.C.) Shares Evaluation of Nation’s Disease and Disaster Preparedness

LaQuandra Nesbitt Shares Evaluation of Nation's Disease and Disaster Preparedness (April 2021)On April 7, LaQuandra Nesbitt (SHO-D.C.) joined Trust for America’s Health for a webinar celebrating the release of a new report, Ready or Not 2021: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism. The panel discussed states’ readiness for public health emergencies and made recommendations for policy improvements to enhance preparedness. Nesbitt highlighted the need for public health budgets to grow in order to adequately fund and provide the full suite of tools for a nimble emergency response. A key success for Washington, D.C.’s pandemic response centers on a surveillance data system that allows the health officials to drive targeted interventions in neighborhoods of greatest need. Nesbitt shared that efforts such as these are crucial to increasing our focus in achieving equity. “In order to achieve equity, we need a solid foundation of public health and healthcare so we can intervene to improve health equity,” said Nesbitt. “If you can’t do basic things like surveillance, you can’t know which populations are disproportionately impacted.” Nesbitt also identified improved information and data systems, early detection of emerging infections and threats, and flexible funding streams as important steps to improving readiness on the state level.


COVID-19 TechXpo

COVID-19 TechXpo BannerOn March 31, ASTHO hosted the COVID-19 TechXpo, a virtual convening of national tech and public health figure to discuss the role of technology in creating optimized public health programs. Together, we explored opportunities to forge new public-private partnerships, revolutionize our health data systems, and integrate new technologies into the COVID-19 response. See a recap of the day’s events below!



COVID-19 TechXpo Opening Plenary: Public Health, COVID-19, and Technology Innovation

Karen DeSalvo, speaker at the 2021 COVID-19 TechXpoWe kicked off the TechXpo by hearing from Karen DeSalvo, chief health officer at Google Health, as she discussed Public Health 3.0 and strategies for transitioning into the post-pandemic era. DeSalvo detailed the work Google has done over the last year to position “authoritative information from authoritative sources” for public consumption and allowing global access for reuse in areas of need.

DeSalvo noted the necessity for “the right information at the right time to help [public health officials] as well as their communities” and highlighted Google Community Mobility Reports which help officials locate riskier areas in need of services. “We came into this pandemic short-handed financially,” said DeSalvo, “systems were not set up to know who was the most vulnerable and what needed to be done.” DeSalvo urged public health officials to “heroically lean in to fill in the gaps” and to reimagine public health together with private and community partnerships that serve society’s most vulnerable populations.


COVID-19 TechXpo Breakout Block A: Trace, Notify, and Investigate: How Tech Aids Time-Tested Disease Investigation Methods

Jenny Wanger speaking at the 2021 COVID-19 TechXpoIn this breakout session, Jenny Wanger of Linux Foundation Public Health discussed the building, adoption, and success of contact tracing apps worldwide. With a growing focus on openness, transparency, and community to build public trust, Wanger detailed a successful collaboration between government, big tech, nonprofits, and startups setting the standard of contribution and working together to solve a common problem. Wanger described the importance of interoperability between individual solutions within a system relying on a high adoption rate. She also reported high levels of success, which now finds contact tracing apps on the phones of over 150 million people worldwide.


COVID-19 TechXpo Breakout Block A: Painting the Picture: COVID-19 Visualization Tools that Inform Policymakers and the Public

COVID-19 Visualization Tools that Inform Policymakers and the Public (2021 COVID-19 TechXpo)For this session, we were joined by Ellie Graeden from Talus Analytics, Alexis Madrigal from The COVID Tracking Project, and Este Geraghty and Jared Shoultz from Esri. Speakers shared the latest data-visualizing tools from their organizations and spoke on the importance of translating real-time data streams into standardized systems that drive decision-making. In particular, Geraghty and Shoultz highlighted their geographic information system, a mapping tool that was instrumental in understanding community spread of COVID-19. Speakers emphasized how viewing data through a geographic lens allows us to better contextualize it and make more informed policy decisions. Panelists wrapped up the session by addressing questions from the audience and sharing their own data-presentation strategies.

COVID-19 TechXpo Breakout Block B: Building the Bridge: Innovations in Monitoring, Care Management, and Support

Mylynn Tufte speaking at the 2021 TechXpoThis session explored the linkage between healthcare and public health data, which for many years has been a long-term effort for public health leaders. Moderated by Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer for ASTHO, the panel explored innovative approaches in integrated clinical and community health data and the challenges related to the disease burden of COVID-19 across the country. Robert Harmon, senior physician executive at Cerner Corporation, discussed the importance of data warehouse management systems and the use of predictive analytics. Harmon implored public health agencies to ask themselves if they have sufficient data and analytics systems to fully understand the health of their communities.

Lisa Bari, interim chief executive officer for the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative, discussed the role of Health Information Exchanges in supporting the COVID-19 response efforts. Mylynn Tufte (alumni – ND), with Optum Advisory Services, stated that public health leaders can use today’s funding momentum to build the data and analytic systems of tomorrow.


COVID-19 TechXpo Breakout Block B: A Monumental Task: Technology and the COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign

Technology and the COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign session at the 2021 TechXpoIn this panel, experts tackled questions around getting the COVID-19 vaccine into as many arms as possible, how to distribute it equitably, and how to build a technology framework that works for campaigns to come. Rebecca Coyle, executive director of the American Immunization Registry Association, notes that while right now the field of immunization is in a boom cycle, “a plan following mass vaccination is desperately needed,” she said. However, there is reason for optimism. Mike Popovich, CEO of STChealth, says that despite the bad rep that governmental public health got during the height of the pandemic response, systems have been nimble and flexible during the vaccine rollout. “It may not seem like it’s working, but I can assure you, under the hood, it is.”


COVID-19 TechXpo Breakout Block B: From Paper to Digital: The Evolution of the Vaccine Credential

Evolution of the Vaccine Credential session from the 2021 TechXpoIn this breakout session, Kevin Richardson, Karen Gardner, and Ramesh Raskar tackled an important conversation on vaccine credentials. With vaccination numbers on the rise, Richardson discussed the importance of security, privacy enhancing, interpretation by machines, and equitability of vaccine forms. "There's a race between vaccinations and variants,” said Richardson. “Adding additional capabilities to the red box [vaccine administration] is very important for vaccine credentials, reporting, and linking."

Gardner also delivered her insight on the challenge of creating standardized vaccine credentials: “From my perspective, there are three key things you have to confirm when looking at a credential. You have to have trust in the issuer, you have to have trust in the data itself, and you have to validate that the person who is presenting this to you is the person it was issued to.”


COVID-19 TechXpo: Virtual Exhibit Hall

TechXpo Virtual Exhibit Hall (2021)Throughout the afternoon, participants stopped in our virtual exhibit hall to get a behind-the-scenes look at exciting products and tools coming out of leading technology companies. Each exhibit featured an interactive virtual “table” featuring resources, an introductory video, and contact information for members of the organization. MyVAX, a national digital health platform, used the space to share how the company is employing a novel COVID-19 digital health passport to help bolster our economy and get Americans back to work and school. Chexout shared a message about how its advanced infectious disease management software became a core piece of the NCAA’s men’s basketball contact tracing effort. Meanwhile, Guidehouse gave participants access to their high-quality leadership collateral to help public health executives in the public health response.


COVID-19 TechXpo Plenary Session: Exposure to the Second Shot: COVID-19 Challenges and the Innovations We Need

Exposure to the Second Shot session from the 2021 COVID-19 TechXpoIn the final panel session of the afternoon, ASTHO’s J.T. Lane led a discussion on opportunities and challenges in modernizing public health systems to meet the needs of the future. ASTHO alumni-CA Karen Smith kicked off the discussion by examining the similarities and differences between the public health and tech sectors. Despite language differences and different processes, she did share that she was optimistic about what the future could look like if tech and public health continue to work together – since both sectors share a highly skilled workforce and hold valuable data assets. Dylan George, VP at In-Q-Tel, emphasized the need for building stronger partnerships between public health and the private sector to modernize data systems as we move forward. While Stanley Campbell, CEO at MyVax, added there is a need to incorporate social determinants of health and permanent, long-term fixes to our systems into the conversation as well. A promising sign of a continued partnership between the public health and tech sectors is that private companies are investing more money into solutions tailored to disease response and public health infrastructure, Jared Allgood of Healthy Together shared. Overall, all the speakers touched on the need for public health to modernize quickly and the private sector will likely play a bigger role in that modernization as public health begins to build out those partnerships.


COVID-19 TechXpo: Closing Keynote

Micky Tripathi_2021 TechXpoWe concluded the 2021 TechXpo with a keynote address from Micky Tripathi, national coordinator for health information technology at HHS. Tripathi drew from his 20+ years in health IT as he shared his vision for the future of public health data. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the need for a national interoperable data system, Tripathi says, and this platform must be a comprehensive data ecosystem. Tripathi advised health leaders to draw from past experiences creating interoperable systems at smaller scales as they build this network. “This isn’t the first time we’ve created an interoperable system,” he says, “What worked well in the past? What didn’t?”

Tripathi closed his message with a call to integrate health equity at the core of this future data system. Data that can be de-aggregated by demographic, location, health risks, and more will be essential to address root drivers of health inequities in the United States. “First, think about what you want to achieve with the data,” Tripathi urged, “and work backwards from there.”


OMNI Learning Community Convenes at 2021 Virtual Summit

OMNI Learning Community Convenes at 2021 Virtual SummitFrom March 23-25, ASTHO hosted the Opioid Use Disorder, Maternal Outcomes, and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Initiative (OMNI) Learning Community Year Three Virtual Summit. Members of the OMNI Learning Community—officials from Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming—and representatives from national and federal partners gathered for this three-day convening focused on providing care for pregnant and postpartum women with opioid use disorder and infants prenatally exposed to opioids. Participants engaged in dynamic virtual sessions that focused on peer-to-peer learning and collaborative problem-solving, informative keynote presentations, and time for state teams share updates on their work. The University of Illinois at Chicago provided an update on the learning community’s evaluation, and members of the OMNI Local Enhancement Project overviewed work completed during year-long assignments in Florida, Kentucky, Nevada, Ohio, and Washington. The summit concluded with an engaging conversation on health equity, racism, and stigma. Though COVID-19 has presented significant challenges for the learning community, participants left the summit invigorated by the work this group achieved over the past year.


Senate Votes to Make Historic Confirmation of Former ASTHO President Rachel Levine

Rachel Levine, MD, U.S. Assistant Secretary for HealthOn March 24, the Senate voted 52-48 to confirm former ASTHO President Rachel Levine (alumni - PA) as the assistant secretary for health at HHS. The confirmation reflects the invaluable role that Levine played in leading Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 response, but also in moving her state ahead on substance use and misuse. Levine also brings her experience working with federal, state, local, and territorial public health officials to address the wide array of public health issues striving toward optimal health for all. Levine will join HHS’s leadership at a pivotal moment when the department must focus on long-term public health and healthcare strategy, while also maintaining a finger on the pulse of the COVID-19 pandemic response. ASTHO congratulates Levine on her confirmation and looks forward to working with her in this new role.


ASTHO Convenes Learning Community to Discuss New Opportunities for Forensic Pathologist Funding

ASTHO Convenes Learning Community to Discuss New Opportunities for Forensic Pathologist Funding (March 2021)On March 22, ASTHO held the first virtual convening of the Forensic Pathologist Shortages Learning Community. The convening was attended by forensic pathologists and public health professionals from Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky, and featured presentations from Jonathan McGrath, senior policy analyst of the National Institute of Justice; Thurston Bryant, special assistant to the director at the Bureau of Justice Assistance; and Jeff Johnston, MD, chief medical examiner from Maricopa County. These presentations focused on innovative strategies for ensuring adequate funding to support the forensic pathologist workforce. Presenters described new and existing federal funding opportunities to support forensic pathologist salaries and offices, and the potential benefits of loan repayment programs. Forensic pathologists play a vital role in supporting public health mortality surveillance, and shortages have been exacerbated in recent years by increases in overdose deaths.


ASTHO Hosts Ask the Experts Webinar on Data, Communication, and Health Equity

ASTHO Hosts Ask the Experts Webinar on Data Communication and Health Equity (March 2021)On March 16, ASTHO hosted the second installment in our Ask the Experts communications webinar series: COVID-19: A Conversation on Data, Communication, and Health Equity. We were joined by a dynamic cast of speakers, including Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick, LaQuandra Nesbitt (SHO-D.C.), and Gillian SteelFisher from the Harvard Opinion Research Program. Our panel discussed the underlying connections between COVID-19 data, messaging, and equity, and how public health leaders can begin to take these elements into account as they formulate their strategies to end the pandemic. Our speakers shared stories from their own experiences taking a data-first approach to leadership and instructed us on strategies for presenting compelling information that will drive action in hard-to-reach communities. They also reminded us that COVID-19 has exposed, not created, long-standing and institutional flaws in the way our policies are shaped and our resources are allocated, and that these flaws will continue to persist well beyond the scope of the pandemic unless we take action today.


ASTHO Advances Partnership with EPA and Environmental Council of the States

ASTHO Advances Partnership with EPA and Environmental Council of the States (March 2021)On March 12, ASTHO signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with EPA and the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS). Under the MOA, which extends the formal partnership between EPA, ECOS, and ASTHO for five years, the partners agree to collaborate in developing initiatives that will leverage resources and advance a mutually shared mission of protecting the public’s health from environmental threats and hazards. Anne Zink, ASTHO’s president elect, helped reaffirm this partnership by attending a virtual MOA event on March 16 along with the new EPA administrator, Michael Regan, and ECOS president, Patrick McDonnell. At the event, Zink talked about the value of cross-sectoral collaboration and reiterated the importance of environmental policies and its direct impact on public health and equity.


ASTHO Hosts Specialized Meta-Leadership Training for Leaders

ASTHO Hosts Specialized Meta-Leadership Training for Leaders (March 2021)On March 11, ASTHO hosted a specialized training for senior deputies and directors of public health preparedness to help strengthen crisis leadership in our state and territorial health agencies. The goal of this three-part workshop is to help participants apply meta-leadership tools to current practices during their COVID-19 response efforts. The framework is designed to provide individuals with rigorous and practical tools so that they are better equipped to act and direct others in emergency situations. The session is a supplement to the book, You’re It: Crisis Change and How to Lead When it Matters Most, which all registrants received prior to attending. After the sessions, participants were given an opportunity for follow-up group discussions with the presenters and fellow participants.


ASTHO Hosts Webinar on Actions to Address Racism as a Public Health Issue

ASTHO Hosts Webinar on Actions to Address Racism as a Public Health Issue (March 2021)On March 5, ASTHO wrapped up Washington Week 2021 with a thoughtful and informative webinar on the subject of racism as a public health issue. Our line-up of experts included Daniel Dawes, director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute; Georges Benjamin (alumni - MD), CEO of APHA; and Leandris Liburd, director of the CDC Office of Minority Health and Health Equity. The event was moderated by Ed Ehlinger (alumni - MN). Our speakers discussed the ways in which COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated the need for policy-level change that protects marginalized communities, as well as how interlocking forms of oppression such as underfunding, underrepresentation, and racial stigma have proved catastrophic for underserved populations. Speakers also laid out their vision and hopes for a more equitable public health landscape and reminded attendees that systemic racism exists well beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. "We must make sure that this is not merely a moment, but a movement for public health," said Dawes.


ASTHO Hears from Environmental Health Directors at First Convening of 2021

ASTHO Hears from Environmental Health Directors at First Convening of 2021On Tuesday, March 9, ASTHO hosted the first quarterly virtual convening of state and territorial environmental health directors (SEHDs) of 2021. The convening was attended by state and territorial environmental health directors and staff, as well as partners from federal agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The two-hour session featured a federal-style panel with updates from Patrick Breysse, director of CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; Bruce Rodan, associate director for science at EPA’s Office of Research and Development; and Alan Tart, deputy director for FDA’s Office of Partnerships. Each speaker provided updates on their agencies’ priorities under the leadership of the new presidential administration. Jeffrey Ekoma of ASTHO’s government affairs team also provided an update on opportunities to advance environmental health priorities under the new administration. Discussions between panelists and attendees centered around current and upcoming work to address top environmental health issues, including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, climate and health, food safety, initiatives to help advance health equity and environmental justice, and ways federal and NGO partners and can support state and territorial environmental health programs. This virtual convening is part of a quarterly series that has been implemented in place of the in-person annual SEHD meeting.


ASTHO Hosts Webinar on Role of Community Health Works in COVID-19 Response and Beyond

ASTHO Hosts Webinar on Role of Community Health Works in COVID-19 Response and Beyond (March 2021)On March 10, ASTHO hosted a webinar highlighting the critical role that community health workers can play in the COVID-19 response, as well as strategies for addressing social determinants of health. Presenters from the Utah Department of Health shared background about the COVID-19 Community Partnership Pilot Project, while the Baltimore City Department of Health discussed the Baltimore Health Corps Pilot project, both of which engaged the community health workforce in the COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. The discussions also looked beyond grant-funded and short-term roles for community health workers and emphasized the need to expand opportunities for different types of trainings and career ladders for the workforce. The National Association of Community Health Workers provided an overview of national-level efforts to elevate the community health workforce and provided insights on leveraging current opportunities for partnerships to redefine equity, health system transformation, and sustainability with regards to this essential workforce. To learn more about the insights from the webinar, watch the recording.


ASTHO Holds Annual Board of Directors Meeting

On Wednesday, Feb. 24, ASTHO held our annual meeting with our board of directors. The meeting was a time for our members to coordinate on ASTHO’s 2021 mission and strategize around the COVID-19 response. We opened with a conversation with members of the White House COVID-19 response team, including COVID-19 Vaccine Coordinator Bechara Choucair and Testing Coordinator Carole Johnson. Choucair shared opening remarks and expressed the response team’s interest in holding routine calls with ASTHO’s executive committee. The board then carefully reviewed several policy statements on top-of-mind public health issues, including on cannabis use for medical conditions, legalizing cannabis for non-medical adult use, access to health services, supporting alternative payment models, and eliminating structural racism.


ASTHO’s 2021 Washington Week

Washington Week 2021 logoFrom March 2-5, ASTHO is hosting its first ever virtual Washington Week, an annual event to bring state and territorial health officials (S/THOs) and federal partners together. This year’s discussions centered around the COVID-19 response, focusing on opportunities for increased funding and stronger federal-state partnerships. Below you can find photos and highlights from our busy week, including leadership sessions and training opportunities.



Washington Week: Introductory Kick-Off

Washington Week 2021 Kick-OffOn Tuesday, March 2, ASTHO kicked off Washington Week 2021 with an introductory session welcoming our participants. ASTHO President Nirav Shah (SHO-ME) delivered opening remarks, outlining the themes, agenda, and topical priorities for the week. Shah introduced the ASTHO board of directors and asked members to share their personal goals for the coming days. ASTHO shared a stirring video highlighting pivotal moments in our nation’s COVID-19 response, from the virus’s arrival on our shores to widespread vaccine distribution today. S/THOs concluded the sessions by sharing the most urgent priorities for them and their departments, including vaccine equity, the need to invest in our health systems, and non-COVID-19 challenges that continue to mount in the shadow of the pandemic.


Washington Week: CDC Director Rochelle Walensky Joins Health Officials for a Leadership Discussion

Rochelle Walensky speaking at ASTHO Washington Week 2021Following the introductory session, ASTHO was joined by new CDC Director Rochelle Walensky for a discussion on leadership amid the COVID-19 crisis. The event was moderated by ASTHO President Nirav Shah (SHO-ME). Walensky thanked S/THOs for their unwavering commitment to their jurisdictions amid the pandemic, and emphasized the need to bolster public health data, workforce, and labs in our COVID-19 recovery and beyond. Walensky answered direct questions from S/THOs, including on what we can do to prepare for children’s vaccinations, the potential for achieving herd immunity, and actions we can take today to help support public health’s future beyond the pandemic. When asked what she would change today in public health if she could, Walensky reiterated the need to support our nation’s health officials. “You don’t have enough resources to do what you need to do,” said Walensky.


Washington Week: Leading in a Public Health Crisis—What Have We Learned?

Dave Altman Presentation Washington Week 2021Following Walensky’s leadership discussion, we were joined by Dave Altman, chief operating officer at the Center for Creative Leadership. At a moment when public health leaders are under immense national pressure, Altman’s message was a reminder of the support systems and strategies in place to help our leaders succeed. Altman shared strategies for supporting and motivating a burned out and exhausted workforce, while also emphasizing the need for our leaders to practice self-care. Health officials shared their own experiences of leading at the state and local level, and brainstormed strategies for how these leadership activities can be improved upon moving forward.

Washington Week: ASTHO Members and Affiliates Convene Digitally with Members of Congress to Discuss Federal Funding and More

Hill Day Washington Week 2021On March 3, ASTHO hosted our annual Hill Day, an exciting opportunity for S/THOs to conduct virtual visits with congressional delegates to discuss recent appropriations, COVID-19 response plans, and ongoing needs. Health officials were broken out into groups with their jurisdiction’s congressional staff, where they were given the opportunity to share their departments’ priorities and answer direct questions from their representatives. In particular, health officials expressed gratitude for the significant public health funding anticipated in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and shared how they are making use of emergency supplemental funding.


Washington Week: COVID-19 Vaccination—Where Are We Now? Where Are We Going?

COVID Vaccination Webinar, Washington Week 2021After our Hill Day, attendees joined in on a webinar titled, COVID-19 Vaccination: Where Are We Now? Where Are We Going? We were joined by James Blumenstock, ASTHO's senior vice president of pandemic response; Claire Hannan, executive director at the Association of Immunization Managers; Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at FDA; Jose Romero (SHO-AR); and LaQuandra Nesbitt (SHO-D.C.). The session addressed crucial topics impacting the success of the national COVID-19 vaccination effort, answering the questions, “where we are today?” and “what is our trajectory for the future?” Presenters engaged in dialogue about the current state of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, reflected on opportunities for improvement, and strategized around key issues including vaccine hesitancy, data collection, managing partner relationships, and optimizing reporting.


Washington Week: Insight and Inspiration Webinar with Dan Heath

Dan Heath Webinar, Washington Week 2021March 4 opened with a dynamic webinar from New York Times bestselling author Dan Heath titled, UPSTREAM: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen. Heath drew from his wealth of leadership experience to supply the tools that leaders need to anticipate and prevent problems before they emerge. Heath asked and answer questions, such as: What does it take to change a system? How do we create buy-in for upstream approaches? How do we re-integrate groups that were intentionally separated with the intent of efficiency? His message for all leaders was to start small, and then work outwards. As Heath emphasized throughout his webinar, “macro starts with micro.”


ASTHO Hosts Webinar on Advancing Equity in Maternal Heart Health Through Breastfeeding

ASTHO Hosts Webinar on Advancing Equity in Maternal Heart Health Through Breastfeeding (Feb. 2021)On Feb. 22, the ASTHO family and child health and health improvement teams co-hosted a webinar, Advancing Equity in Maternal Heart Health Through Breastfeeding, for teams participating in the ASTHO Breastfeeding Learning Community, ASTHO Heart Disease and Stroke Learning Collaborative, and CDC Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health programs. Eleanor Schwarz of the University of California – Davis, a national expert on the effects of lactation on maternal health, gave a presentation on the association between breastfeeding and reduced risk of heart disease. After the presentation, participants discussed opportunities for collaboration between chronic disease prevention and maternal and child health programs to reduce inequities in maternal heart health. Attendees included staff from state, territorial, and local health agencies, their partner organizations, CDC, and NACCHO.


Two ASTHO Members Testify Before Congress on COVID-19 Response Funding and Infrastructure

Two ASTHO Members Testify Before Congress on COVID-19 Response Funding and Infrastructure (Feb. 2021)On Feb. 24, Ngozi Ezike (SHO-IL) and Umair Shah (SHO-WA) testified before two different Congressional committees regarding public health funding and the COVID-19 response. Ezike was a witness for the House Homeland Security Hearing on "Confronting the Coronavirus: Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic One Year Later." This hearing follows up on a previous hearing, in which Ezike focused on the initial perspectives of public health experts related to the pandemic. Ezike shared information about the successes, challenges, and opportunities in executing Illinois’s vaccine distribution plan. Other experts on the witness panel included Nicole Clowers, managing director for the health care team of the Government Accountability Office; Crystal Watson, senior scholar of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security; and J. Ryan McMahon II, county executive of Onondaga County in New York state. Additional details related to the hearing can be accessed on the committee website. Shah testified along with representatives of from the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, Association of Public Health Laboratories, and NACCHO before the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS-ED) hearing titled, "Ready or Not: U.S. Public Health Infrastructure." Shah expressed that, “While there were many uncertainties with the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing that was for certain: this pandemic would have played out very differently if the capacity of the public health system across this nation was better able to support the needs of communities.” Representatives from partner organizations provided detailed examples of how chronic underfunding of public health systems has hindered their members’ ability to respond in the laboratory, epidemiology, and local health arenas. The LHHS-ED committee was wholeheartedly supportive of improving how public health is funded. The recording and additional details are available for viewing on the committee website.


ASTHO Members Share Their Expertise at the National Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine

ASTHO Members Share Their Expertise at the National Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine (Feb. 2021)From Feb. 22-24, CDC hosted the National Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Agenda, an event for public health leaders to come together and coordinate on their COVID-19 vaccine outreach and distribution plans. ASTHO members who presented at the forum included Monica Bharel (SHO-MA), Umair Shah (SHO-WA), Judith Persichilli (SHO-NJ), Nirav Shah (SHO-ME), LaQuandra S. Nesbitt (SHO-D.C.), Ayne Amjad (SHO-WV), Steven J. Stack (SHO-KY), and James Blumenstock, senior vice president for pandemic response and recovery at ASTHO. The three-day event opened with a keynote presentation from leaders at HHS, CDC, NIH, and other national partners highlighting the federal government’s progress in addressing equitable vaccine implementation. Day one of the event focused on building trust and vaccine confidence in hard-hit communities, with speakers delivering top strategies for accessing and combatting vaccine hesitancy among underserved populations. Day two of the forum centered around the role that data and technology must play in the vaccine distribution effort moving forward, as leaders overviewed the current COVID-19 vaccine data and spotlighted federal data sources and tools that can be used to better understand and address health equity. Finally, the event culminated in a day emphasizing equitable vaccine access, with tips on how to engaging under-resourced communities early and often.


ASTHO Joins “We Stand with Public Health” Webcast

ASTHO Joins We Stand with Public Health Webcast (Feb 2021)On Feb. 24, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health hosted a special webinar centered on the escalating pressure and threats that our public health officials continue to face amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and what we can do as a public health community to protect them. New CDC Director Rochelle Walensky opened up the webcast with remarks about the importance of equitable, unified, science-backed public health response to the pandemic. The session was moderated by Joshua Sharfstein (alumni - MD), who was joined by Joneigh Khaldun (SHO-MI), ASTHO Chief Medical Officer Marcus Plescia, and other public health leaders from NACCHO, Big Cities Health Coalition, and other health partners. With more than 180 state and local public health officials leaving their jobs in the last year due to harassment and threats, this panel of experts shared their personal stories of what it’s like leading a public health effort at a time when public health is in the national spotlight.


Former ASTHO President Rachel Levine Testifies Before Senate for Role of Assistant Secretary of Health

Former ASTHO President Rachel Levine Testifies Before Senate for Role of Assistant Secretary of Health (Feb. 2021)On Feb. 25, ASTHO's immediate past president, Rachel Levine, testified before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions for the role of assistant secretary of health and human services. Levine shared her extensive public health background serving as a pediatrician and as Pennsylvania’s state health official. She then answered questions from senators on several top-of-mind topic areas, including the national COVID-19 response plan, the national opioid epidemic, and strategies for bridging the state and federal public health effort. More than 40 leading healthcare organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have endorsed Levine’s nomination to be Assistant Secretary for Health. Watch the testimony recording on the Senate committee's website.


ASTHO Holds First ASTHO Week of 2021

ASTHO Holds First 2021 ASTHO WeekFrom Feb. 16-18, ASTHO held its first ASTHO Week of 2021. The week was packed with sessions designed to give staff the opportunity to connect with each other while developing new skillsets. Activities included an in-depth emotional intelligence training with expert Sylvia Baffour, a series of lighting round skill workshops, and a session spotlighting ASTHO’s health equity achievements. ASTHO was also joined by Esther Muña (THO-CNMI) who shared her personal story working in public health in the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands. Muña expressed the challenges of balancing overseeing the jurisdiction’s primary care hospital with leading public health and prevention efforts. The week gave ASTHO staff the opportunity to align on our shared vision for 2021 and come together as an organization at a time when the public health workforce must be as united and resolute as ever.


ASTHO Hosts Deskside Media Briefing on Concerns Over COVID-19 Vaccine Data and Equity

ASTHO Hosts Deskside Media Briefing on Concerns Over COVID-19 Vaccine Data and EquityOn Thursday, Feb. 4, ASTHO held a deskside media briefing to discuss concerns regarding the data lag impacting reporting of COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to states and the number of doses administered to patients. ASTHO was joined by ASTHO President Nirav Shah (SHO-ME) and Thomas Dobbs (SHO-MS), as they spoke to the multi-layered challenges of executing a speedy and equitable COVID-19 vaccine campaign. Our members addressed strategies to improve the equitable distribution of vaccines, highlighting the importance of building trust with vaccine hesitant audiences and dedicating resources to access underserved populations. In particular, Shah emphasized the essential role that data tracking and reporting must play in the COVID-19 response moving forward. Our members concluded the briefing by answering questions from members from the media, including about what the coming months of the COVID-19 response could have in store.


Coalition for Health Funding Provides Congressional Briefing on State and Local Budgets

Coalition for Health Funding logoOn Feb. 2, Richelle Swanson, finance director for the Division of Public Health Services of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, participated in a Coalition for Health Funding congressional briefing on state and local budgets. Other panelists of the briefing included Shelby Kerns, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers, and Jennifer Kertanis, director of the Farmington Valley Health District in Canton, CT and president of the National Association of County and City Health Officials. Presenters covered issues related to how states receive funding from the federal government and the different means through which funds are distributed to agencies, challenges that may prohibit the timely transfer of resources, and opportunities to ease challenges, considering the autonomy of state and local governments. The webinar was attended by both members of the coalition and congressional staff.


ASTHO Members Testify Before Congress on COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign

ASTHO Members Testify Before Congress on COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign (Feb 2021)On Feb. 2, Jill Hunsaker-Ryan (SHO-CO), Ngozi Ezike (SHO-IL), and Joneigh Khaldun (SHO-MI) testified to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in a hearing titled, No Time to Lose: Solutions to Increase COVID-19 Vaccinations in the States. The state health officials shared the successes of the COVID-19 vaccination effort and offered insight as to where federal partners can help the states scale up vaccination. Demand for vaccines has far outpaced the supply provided to the states, but states are confident they can scale up vaccination efforts rapidly and equitably once increased supply and funding are provided.


ASTHO Promotes Relationship-Building Through Strategic Planning Efforts in Overdose Data to Action Learning Community

ASTHO Promotes Relationship-Building Through Strategic Planning Efforts in Overdose Data to Action Learning Community (Feb. 2021)On Feb. 2, ASTHO hosted a webinar titled, State and Local Integration Through OD2A Strategic Planning. This CDC-supported webinar was available to all Overdose Data to Action (OD2A)-funded jurisdictions. It focused on Nebraska’s virtual strategic planning efforts that promote, strengthen, and sustain relationships as a strategy to reduce overdose morbidity and mortality. Presenters included local and state health agency employees from Nebraska and a facilitator who supported the strategic planning process. Presenters shared lessons learned, key tools from the virtual sessions, and next steps for implementation. Specific virtual engagement strategic planning tools and activities were showcased, providing a demonstration for participants. ASTHO plans to release a strategic planning template resource to OD2A-funded jurisdictions that supports the development of strategic plans and promotes building and maintaining relationships between state and local health agencies.


ASTHO and NACCHO Host Disability and Preparedness Specialist Learning Community Kick-Off

ASTHO and NACCHO Host Disability and Preparedness Specialist Learning Community Kick-Off (Jan 2021)ASTHO, in collaboration with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), hosted a two-part virtual kick-off for the Disability and Preparedness Specialist Learning Community on Jan. 25 and 28. The disability and preparedness specialists are subject-matter experts who have been embedded within state, territorial, and local health agencies to advocate for and protect the rights, health, and well-being of people living with disabilities in public health emergency preparedness. The meeting convened the specialists and their on-site supervisors, ASTHO, and NACCHO staff, as well as partners from the Association for University Centers on Disability and CDC to discuss the project. Both ASTHO and NACCHO staff led sessions that included an introduction and overview of the project’s objectives, a networking breakout with peers and partners, an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, and trainings on disability and public health preparedness. This virtual kick-off was the first of regular monthly learning community convenings to exchange knowledge, share best practices, and improve the specialists’ ability to address the needs of people living with disabilities in preparedness planning, mitigation, and recovery.


ASTHO Launches Ask the Experts COVID-19 Communications Learning Series

ASTHO Launches Ask the Experts COVID-19 Communications Learning Series (Jan. 2021)On Jan. 27, ASTHO hosted a webinar titled, Ask the Experts Crisis Communication and COVID-19 Series: Making Sense of COVID-19 Vaccine Polling Results. The series is a joint effort between ASTHO and the National Public Health Information Coalition and is supported by CDC. A panel of national experts shared best practices for developing clear messaging and communication around the COVID-19 response. The panel was moderated by James Blumenstock, senior vice president of pandemic response and recovery at ASTHO. Panelists included Gillian SteelFisher, senior research scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and deputy director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program, and Neetu Abad, senior behavioral scientist and co-lead of the Vaccine Confidence Team in CDC’s Vaccine Task Force. During the webinar, SteelFisher shared results of a meta-analysis of the many COVID-19 vaccine-related public polls and how public health can use this information to guide vaccine messaging. Abad went on to discuss behavioral drivers of hesitancy and how CDC uses that knowledge to craft outreach materials. SteelFisher and Abad then answered questions from an audiences of public health professionals on the specific challenges observed in their regions.


ASTHO Takes Part in the National Day of Racial Healing

ASTHO Takes Part in the 2021 National Day of Racial HealingASTHO observed the fifth anniversary of the National Day of Racial Healing on Jan. 19, alongside the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation community partners. The day was packed with a full agenda, as we took collective action in bridging an equitable world and a stronger future while treading through restoration from the damages caused by racism and damaging societal constructs. Our staff participated in healing meditations, heard a message on racial healing from Gail C. Christopher, and joined a host of other events including the Kellogg Foundation’s live event. The hashtag #HowWeHeal was created to highlight ways in which individuals, communities, and organizations are choosing to heal from the effects of racism. To play our part of healing as an organization, ASTHO staff participated in an exercise by providing a few words highlighting how individuals are journeying down a path of racial healing.


ASTHO Convenes Workshop on Enhancing Alaska’s Pain Clinic Closure Response Plan

ASTHO Convenes Workshop on Enhancing Alaska Pain Clinic Closure Response Plan_Jan 2021ASTHO, in collaboration with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, hosted a two-part virtual workshop to develop and enhance Alaska’s pain clinic closure response plan on Jan. 12 and 14. The meeting convened representatives from state Medicaid, public safety, behavioral health, public health, and local health organizations to discuss the partnerships, data, and resources needed to form a safety net for patients affected by these closures. The workshop is part of a series of exercises ASTHO and CDC are conducting with 10 states to address pain clinic closures, which can create a dangerous situation for those who use, are dependent on, or are addicted to opioid medications.


New Jersey Health and Government Officials Tour COVID-19 Vaccination "Mega-Site"

New Jersey Health and Government Officials Tour COVID-19 Vaccination "Mega-Site" (January 2021)On Jan. 11, Judith Persichilli (SHO-NJ) accompanied New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney on a tour of one of six COVID-19 vaccination "mega-sites" planned in the Garden State. The Rowan College of South Jersey is the host site of a clinic that could provide upwards of 2,400 vaccinations a day once sufficient vaccine supply is available. Vaccinations are scheduled on an appointment-only-basis and the center will be open 10 hours a day. The center is currently focusing on priority category 1a (i.e., healthcare workers) as well as first responders (e.g., police, fire, EMS) and could be operational for the next six months as eligibility expands and New Jersey strives to achieve its vaccination goals. The clinic is an excellent example of a whole-of-community effort with leadership from Governor Murphy and a strong partnership between Rowan College of South Jersey, the New Jersey Department of Health, the Gloucester County Health Department, the New Jersey Division of State Police/Office of Emergency Management, the New Jersey National Guard, and many other state and county leaders and agencies.


ASTHO Hosts Deskside Media Briefing on COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

ASTHO Hosts Deskside Media Briefing on COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout (Jan. 7, 2021)On Jan. 7, ASTHO hosted a deskside briefing with national media partners to discuss the successes and complexities surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, as well as lay out a plan to get more people vaccinated. ASTHO’s panel of experts included ASTHO President Rachel Levine (SHO-PA), Steven Stack (SHO-KY), and James Blumenstock, senior vice president of pandemic response and recovery at ASTHO. Speakers expressed optimism about the over five million vaccines currently administered in the United States, as well as confidence that vaccine production and administration will continue to ramp up in the coming weeks. Speakers then shared the transportation, communication, funding, and other logistical challenges that influence vaccine distribution. Presenters also stressed that from the beginning, vaccine safety and accuracy was paramount—not speed or volume. The briefing closed with members of the media asking questions of our panel.

  • 2020Expand to review ASTHO's 2020 From the Field dispatches.

    • ASTHO Holds Call for Breastfeeding and Health Equity Innovation Grant Program

      ASTHO Holds Call for Breastfeeding and Health Equity Innovation Grant Program (Dec. 2020)On Dec. 16, the family and child health team held an informational call for the second round of funding of the State Innovations to Advance Breastfeeding and Health Equity grant program. The purpose of this funding opportunity is to support State Physical Activity and Nutrition recipients participating in ASTHO’s Breastfeeding Learning Community who have not previously received funding to advance state-level initiatives in breastfeeding and health equity. ASTHO staff Ify Mordi and Gabby Garcia discussed the purpose and important components of the RFP, funding types available, evaluation criteria, and important dates, and provided time for Q&A. The call was attended by staff from the Connecticut Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Health, and North Carolina Division of Public Health.


    • ASTHO Hosts Tobacco Prevention in the Lens of COVID-19 Webinar

      ASTHO Hosts Tobacco Prevention in the Lens of COVID-19 Webinar (Dec. 2020)On Dec. 16, the chronic disease prevention team hosted a webinar titled Tobacco Prevention in the Lens of COVID-19: New Opportunities and Strategies. The event featured three panelists: Marcus Plescia, ASTHO’s chief medical officer; Clinton Isham, a tribal relations consultant for the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation; and Jennifer Kreslake, director at the Schroeder Institute at Truth Initiative. The panelists addressed topics related to the intersections of COVID-19 and tobacco control work, including the link between tobacco use and COVID-19 transmission, tobacco prevention messaging strategies, as well as disparate populations and health inequities. The panelists’ varying perspectives and insights resulted in a rich discussion that brought to light the importance of being resilient, creative, and supportive during this time.


    • ASTHO Holds Final 2020 ASTHO Week

      ASTHO Holds Final 2020 ASTHO WeekFrom Dec. 7-9, ASTHO held its third and final ASTHO Week for 2020. A variety of sessions offered staff a chance to connect across teams and develop skills in new areas. ASTHO was grateful to have ASTHO President Rachel Levine (SHO-PA) join us to kick off the activities. Staff led wellness sessions, as well as presentations on ACEs, resilience, innovation, and skill building. Seeing the faces of colleagues and hearing from those whom ASTHO serves has come to mean something more than an opportunity to collaborate and share highlights from our respective areas of focus. As 2020 comes to a close, ASTHO Week was a time for reflection, celebration of one another, and an opportunity to remember that with 2021 comes great hope.


    • Weekly USAPI COVID-19 Virtual Convening

      Weekly USAPI COVID-19 Virtual Convening (Dec. 2020)On Dec. 9, the 44th U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI) COVID-19 weekly response meeting was convened by CDC. The meeting involved all global and domestic partners including ASTHO, WHO, UNICEF, PIHOA, DoD, and other partner agencies. What began nearly a year ago as a coordinated approach to procuring and distributing PPE throughout the region has evolved to coordinate border closings, repatriate stranded citizens, secure a shared pre-travel quarantine site in Honolulu, share insights on the development of screening, testing, and contact tracing policies and protocols, and maintain regional situational awareness. Currently, the meeting’s focus is on vaccine planning and preparedness, including finalizing jurisdiction-specific plans while coordinating shipping, equipment, and expertise on a regional level. Participants discussed insights gained from the CDC-led mock end-to-end test of vaccine ordering and delivery in which four of the six USAPI participated.


    • Ngozi Ezike and Michael Fraser Present at Capitol Hill Steering Committee Webinar

      Ngozi Ezike and Michael Fraser Present at Capitol Hill Steering Committee WebinarOn Dec. 9, ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser and Ngozi Ezike (SHO-IL) presented on a Capitol Hill Steering Committee on Pandemic Preparedness and Health Security webinar. The webinar, titled Implementation of Mass Vaccination Campaigns in a Pandemic: Challenges and Opportunities during COVID-19, was moderated by Anita Cicero, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Presenters covered news, expectations, and challenges surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine trials. Specifically, speakers addressed the hurdles of executing a historically complex national vaccination program, and highlighted opportunities at the local, state, and national levels to transport and equitably administer a COVID-19 vaccine. The webinar was attended by congressional staff, media, and other stakeholders.


    • USVI Department of Health Launches Community Health Improvement Planning Effort

      USVI Department of Health Launches Community Health Improvement Planning Effort (Nov. 2020)On Nov. 23, the USVI Department of Health kicked off its Healthy Virgin Islands 2030 Community Health Improvement Planning (CHIP) efforts, with support from ASTHO. During the virtual meeting, the cross-sector planning committee of USVI DOH leaders and community partners discussed findings from the 2020 Community Health Assessment and strategized around their aim and timeline to select priorities and adapt their CHIP framework to COVID-19. In the coming months, the committee will develop a CHIP that helps provide the direction for how USVI will work together to improve the health of the population.


    • Final CORHA Fall Meeting Session

      CORHA logoOn. Dec 2, the Council for Outbreak Response: Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) and Antimicrobial-Resistant Pathogens (CORHA), held its third and final fall meeting. The objectives for this meeting were to review the inventory of new CORHA guidance available to be posted to CORHA's website, discuss strategies to increase uptake of CORHA products, and plan activities to increase engagement with state and local health department HAI program staff and stakeholders. Erin Epson and Joe Perz, members of CORHA's Governance Committee, led the Council in a discussion to achieve these objectives. Moving forward, the group will explore opportunities to host a webinar series to guide those using CORHA products, convene a focus group of new HAI program staff to implement and provide feedback on the guidance, and collaborate with the Council's member organizations such as the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and the Association for Professional in Infection Control and Epidemiology to broaden CORHA’s reach. Council members also discussed potential activities on topics related to the impact of COVID-19 on the future of healthcare outbreak investigation and response.


    • ASTHO Concludes Insight and Inspiration Webinar Series

      Insight and Inspiration Series logoOn Nov. 18, ASTHO wrapped up its Insight and Inspiration webinar series, a five-part series on strategies for motivating and advancing leadership amid the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 response. Sessions were led by nationally recognized authors and strategic thinkers whose leadership experiences demonstrated how leaders can remain resilient and inspired in the midst of crisis. Attended by public health professionals at the local, state, and federal levels, each 45-minute webinar synthesized years of leadership experience, tools, and tips into an inspirational and actionable sessions. The broad range of issues covered included the intersection of social justice and public health, the importance of self-care, and the implications of the Information Age in the COVID-19 response. You can find recordings from the series on our Insight and Inspiration event page.


    • ASTHO Hosts Webinar on State Public Health Perspectives on the 2020 Elections

      On Nov. 19, ASTHO hosted a webinar on state perspectives of the 2020 elections. Webinar participants included current ASTHO members and ASTHO alumni members. Carolyn Mullen and Jeffrey Ekoma of ASTHO’s government affairs team and Andy Baker-White of ASTHO’s state health policy team provided an update on the outcomes of the 2020 federal and state elections, pending Congressional business for the remainder of the year, upcoming business before Congress, and ballot measures approved by states. Panelists also analyzed the impact of changes to federal and state government on public health, as well as challenges and opportunities for public health next year. Discussions between panelists and attendees focused on ASTHO’s work with the Biden transition team, as well as work with the Trump administration to support the needs for ASTHO members in their COVID-19 response.


    • ASTHO and AMCHP Cohost Learning Session on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Care During COVID-19

      ASTHO and AMCHP Cohost Learning Session on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Care During COVID-19 (Nov. 2020)On Nov. 18, ASTHO and the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs cohosted the Innovative Approaches to Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Care During COVID-19 virtual learning session. Attendees heard from two telebehavioral health programs on how they’re providing services during the pandemic. Rachel Wightman, cofounder of the Buprenorphine Hotline in Rhode Island, shared her program’s experience with providing care for individuals struggling with substance use disorder. Gwen Latendresse recounted the work of the University of Utah’s Telehealth Pilot Project to provide mental healthcare to pregnant and postpartum women. Both described federal policy changes that enabled the development of their telehealth models of care and offered goals for future growth. For more information, open the webinar materials—agenda, speaker bios, and slides—available for download.


    • Webinar on Approaches for Implementing CORHA's Proposed COVID-19 Outbreak Definitions

      CORHA logoOn. Nov 17, the Council for Outbreak Response: Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) and Antimicrobial-Resistant Pathogens (CORHA), which is co-managed by ASTHO and CSTE, hosted a webinar to provide guidance on CORHA’s new outbreak definitions and reporting thresholds for COVID-19 outbreaks in healthcare settings. The tool provides adaptable guidance for healthcare facilities to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks in healthcare settings and does not replace state and local reporting requirements. Erin Epson, medical director and chief of the HAI Program at the California Department of Public Health, and chair of CORHA, presented CORHA’s rationale behind the proposed guidance. Moon Kim, medical epidemiologist of the Acute Communicable Disease Control Program at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, shared Los Angeles County’s experience using this tool in healthcare settings. This webinar is the first of many upcoming CORHA webinars to provide guidance on COVID-19 and HAI outbreak response activities.


    • ASTHO Convenes Minority Health and Health Equity Leadership Network

      ASTHO, in partnership with the National Association of State Offices of Minority Health and Health Equity Directors, and with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is hosting a Minority Health and Health Equity Leadership Network. The goal of the learning community is to build a community of practice that fosters peer learning, shares best practices, and supports efforts to build state and territorial health agency capacity to advance health equity. On Nov. 16, members of the learning community convened to identify priorities and tangible activities. The conversation focused on strategies to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and the development of culturally informed vaccine messaging. The group shared ideas for how to better engage communities and non-traditional partners during the early phases of the pandemic. The group emphasized the importance of building relationships grounded in trust and transparency, and is working on key activities to pursue over the next three months.


    • ASTHO Hosts Bilingual Webinar on Overdose Reporting for Puerto Rico Department of Health

      ASTHO Hosts Bilingual Webinar on Overdose Reporting for Puerto Rico Department of Health (Nov. 2020)On Nov. 10, ASTHO’s social and behavioral health team conducted a bilingual webinar in English and Spanish on mandatory reporting of overdoses for the Puerto Rico Department of Health (PR DOH). The webinar consisted of three prerecorded videos, followed by a live Q&A session. During the first video, Karen Edge, New Mexico Department of Health’s substance abuse epidemiology section head, discussed New Mexico’s process for creating, implementing, and enforcing an administrative code. Next, Corey Davis, Network for Public Health Law’s deputy director of the Harm Reduction Legal Project, explained the purpose and considerations for creating an administrative rule and the indicators and metrics used to measure a rule’s success. Finally, Jessica Bissett, ASTHO’s senior analyst for social and behavioral health, reviewed essential considerations and next steps for the PR DOH to take when implementing a mandatory reporting of overdoses rule. The ASTHO team will share a complementary bilingual toolkit to support PR DOH in its opioid work.


    • ASTHO Hears From Public Health Preparedness Directors on Monthly Call

      ASTHO’s preparedness team held its monthly call with the Directors of Public Health Preparedness Executive Committee (DPHP EC) on Nov. 10. This committee of state and territorial preparedness directors is comprised of four officers and 12 regional DPHP representing the 10 HHS regions and directly funded cities. The DPHP EC is elected to represent the voice of the larger peer network. The DPHP EC has direct access to the federal preparedness leadership at CDC and HHS. These regular calls with ASTHO and federal partners provide a platform for the DPHP EC to identify and discuss national-level preparedness priorities, collaborate to improve policy and operational capability, and provide a two-way conduit for critical communication between the jurisdictions and federal partners. Over the last 10 months, these calls have played a key role in keeping abreast of regional situational awareness and problem solving for the COVID-19 pandemic.


    • FDA Commissioner Hahn Joins ASTHO All-S/THO Call

      FDA Commissioner Hahn Joins ASTHO All-S/THO CallOn Oct. 27, FDA Commissioner Steven Hahn joined ASTHO’s all-S/THO call to share more information on the vaccine development and safety review process for COVID-19 vaccine candidates. It was great to have the commissioner join us and share information about the overall process, leading vaccine candidates, and anticipated next steps. After the FDA item, Elizabeth Harrington from Public Opinion Strategies shared results of a poll on perceptions of public health pre-COVID-19 and during the first few months of the pandemic. A summary of this fascinating data can be found in the de Beaumont Foundation article, "Voters Are United in Their Support of Public Health."


    • ASTHO Staff Present at APHA 2020

      APHA 2020 LogoFrom Oct. 24 - 28, nine ASTHO staff presented at APHA’s 2020 meeting: Creating the Healthiest Nation: Preventing Violence. The meeting was an invaluable chance for staff to share the voice of state and territorial public health, learn about emerging health policies around the country, connect with public health colleagues, and stay informed about new research. Here is a summary of ASTHO staff presentations and topics:

      • Maggie Carlin—Trends in governmental public health: Monitoring state health agency infrastructure.
      • Alannah Kittle—Preventing, promoting, and protecting: How state government does public health.
      • Cara Person—Prevention and service provision: The role of state health agencies in addressing injury and violence.
      • Deborah Backman—Promoting the right to breastfeed for all populations through transformative state and local policy, systems, and environmental change.
      • Allen Rakotoniainia—What’s measured matters: The impact of an adaptive evaluation framework in a national public health organization.
      • Aika Aluc, Janet Oputa, Jes Lyons, and Kat Patterson—Addressing inequities in rural maternal health before, during, and after COVID-19 through changes in service delivery models and partnerships.
       

    • ASTHO Attends the Kentucky Perinatal Quality Collaborative’s Annual Meeting

      ASTHO Attends the Kentucky Perinatal Quality Collaborative’s Annual Meeting (Oct. 2020)On Oct. 27-28, 2020 the Kentucky Perinatal Quality Collaborative (KyPQC) held its second annual meeting. State Perinatal quality collaboratives (PQCs) consist of teams working to improve the quality of care for mothers and infants. PQC members identify health care processes that need to be improved and use the best available methods to make changes as quickly as possible. The KyPQC, now operating in its second year, has been a CDC and ASTHO-funded project, including funding for a local placement to the Kentucky learning community team through the Opioid Use Disorder, Maternal Outcome Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (OMNI) initiative. The support received from the OMNI project was highlighted throughout the meeting by Connie White (Deputy Commissioner, Kentucky Department for Public Health) and Wanda Barfield (Director, CDC Division of Reproductive Health). The meeting convened maternal and infant health leaders in Kentucky to build quality improvement projects in obstetrical, neonatal, and data initiatives. The discussions also included information on stigma, state PQC initiatives, maternal opioid treatment programs, person-centered opioid disorder recovery programs, federal neonatal abstinence syndrome programs, and a presentation from a person with lived experience. ASTHO staff participated by leading roundtables to inform the work of the KyPQC over the coming year.


    • Conclusion of the Leadership Check-Up Webinar Series

      Leadership Check-Up Webinar SeriesASTHO and the National Council for Behavioral Health concluded our Leadership Check-Up Series on Oct. 22. The six-part series was designed to help public health professionals better understand the impact of stress and moral injury during the pandemic. The series aimed to provide a space for them to pause, reflect, nourish, and practice self-care amid the COVID-19 response. Featuring national behavioral health and resilience experts, the 60-minute sessions focused on topics including strategies to minimize the impact of anxiety, the concept of post-traumatic growth, and tools for supporting individuals experiencing complex trauma. Attendance for the webinar series ranged from 840-3,000 individuals, indicating the importance of the content and the need for support among public health professionals continuing the vital work of responding to COVID-19.


    • Healthy Brain Initiative Planning Lab Work Continues

      Healthy Brain Initiative Planning Lab Work Continues (Oct. 2020)ASTHO’s health improvement team and our partners at the Alzheimer’s Association hosted final calls for the Healthy Brain Initiative (HBI) Road Map Planning Lab on Oct. 16 and 19. Calls were conducted with officials from Arizona, California, Idaho, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Wyoming. These discussions were a time to celebrate the accomplishments of each team in implementing the HBI Road Map over the last year. Strategic plans from the HBI Planning Lab included a wide range of activities and policies to advance cognitive health, care for people living with dementia, and support caregivers of people living with dementia. For activities to implement the HBI Road Map in your state, visit ASTHO’s Healthy Brain Initiative Road Map module.


    • ASTHO Holds Suite of Membership Meetings

      Oct. 2020 Membership Meeting AttendeesOn Oct. 20, ASTHO held three meetings with our members and senior leaders. These meetings collectively focused on organizational priorities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the evolving needs of our members, and plans for 2021.

      The afternoon began with the ASTHO Board of Directors meeting. Discussions here focused on planning our work with the Administration post-election, budget obligations for COVID-19 funding of state and local jurisdictions, and internal administrative matters.

      From there, members participated in ASTHO’s annual Assembly of Members meeting. This meeting featured updates from ASTHO CEO Mike Fraser, president Rachel Levine, and senior vice president of government affairs and public relations Carolyn Mullen. We acknowledged outgoing members, welcomed incoming officials, and reviewed ASTHO’s policy statement development process.

      Julia Morita, executive vice president of Robert Wood Johnson FoundationWe closed out the evening with a virtual gathering of forty health officials for ASTHO’s S/THO leadership retreat. Julie Morita, executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, shared insights and answered questions from members on a variety of topics including COVID-19 recovery, building a culture of health, COVID-19 vaccine planning and distribution, and leading during a public health crisis. Health officials also participated in small group sessions of their choice to discuss COVID-19 testing, PPE issues, equity strategy and vaccine planning, IT modernization, and media in the age of COVID-19. The retreat concluded with a social hour where members networked and connected with one another.


    • ASTHO Convenes National Government Affairs Leaders

      On Oct. 5, ASTHO convened a roundtable of state and territorial government affairs leaders. The group included ASTHO affiliates and non-affiliated partners and provided a chance to share perspectives, strengthen communication, and improve coordination among government affairs peers. Topics discussed included the COVID-19 response, state spend down of COVID-19 emergency supplemental funds, and emerging public health priorities.

      Participants shared new resources from their organizations and explored areas for future collaboration. Interested in COVID-19 resources? View ASTHO's suite of COVID-19 resources.


    • Thomas Dobbs Testifies at Congressional COVID-19 Hearing

      Thomas Dobbs Testifies at Congressional COVID-19 Hearing (March 2020)On March 10, Thomas Dobbs, MD, MPH (SHO-MS) testified at a House Committee on Homeland Security hearing entitled “Community Perspectives on Coronavirus Preparedness and Response.” Dobbs shared on-the-ground experience from Mississippi about the state’s current preparedness activities, as well as details on previous emergency responses in the state. Speaking on lessons from seasonal flu outbreaks in nursing homes, he shared that, “We’ve learned that if we implement basic public health responses like rapid identification, immediate isolation, quarantine, restriction of visitors, we can severely limit the impact to our older populations.” He also discussed the difficulties that arise when governments prioritize surge supplemental funding over sustained investments in public health infrastructure.

      Also on the witness panel were Ron Klain, former White House Ebola response coordinator; Nadine Gracia, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Trust for America’s Health; and Christopher Neuwirth of the New Jersey Department of Health. For more details check the committee's hearing page.


    • Ngoze Ezike Testifies at Congressional COVID-19 Hearing

      Ngoze Ezike Testifies at Congressional COVID-19 Hearing (March 2020)On March 4, Ngozi Ezike (SHO-IL) testified at a House Committee on Homeland Security hearing entitled “Confronting the Coronavirus: Perspectives on the Response to a Pandemic Threat.” Ezike spoke about COVID-19, Illinois’ ongoing preparedness and response efforts, and the state’s needs for supplemental federal funding to support that work. Ezike testified alongside Tom Ingelsby, director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and former CDC director Julie Louise Gerberding. See more details on the Committee for Homeland Security's hearing page, Confronting the Coronavirus: Perspectives on the Response to a Pandemic Threat.


    • ASTHO Hosts ACEs Meeting With Resilient Wisconsin Coalition

      ASTHO Hosts ACEs Meeting With Resilient Wisconsin Coalition (March 2020)On March 2-3, the Social and Behavioral Health team met with the Resilient Wisconsin coalition in Madison, WI, as part of ASTHO’s learning community on preventing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). The meeting was centered on building cross-sector relationships for the state’s ACEs prevention efforts. Stakeholders present included agency staff, the Medicaid Office of Policy and Practice, and other public and private partners. Discussions focused on strategies for increasing community resilience, building community relationships, and engaging agency leaders.


    • ASTHO’s 2020 Washington Week

      From Feb. 24-28, ASTHO hosted its annual Washington Week. Below are photos and highlights from a packed week of meetings, leadership sessions, and training opportunities!


      Washington Week: ASTHO Kicks Off Washington Week With Annual Board Meeting

      ASTHO Kicks Off Washington Weel 2020 With Annual Board MeetingOn Monday, Feb. 24, ASTHO held its annual board meeting. The convening was an invaluable opportunity to align on ASTHO 2020 priorities, our work with federal and local agencies, and shared state responses to emerging health threats. Jay Butler (alum-AK), Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases at CDC, spoke to the board about state roles in the federal government’s Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative, and also briefed members on the evolving COVID-19 outbreak. Robert Kadlec, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), also provided a COVID-19 update on the current state of federal activities, quarantine protocols, ASPR’s role in mitigating medical supply issues, and the impact of COVID-19 on the medical supply market. ASTHO staff Mary Anne Cooney and Melissa Lewis closed the meeting with an update on the 2020 ASTHO Challenge, which is a concentrated effort to increase investments in community health through local, place-based strategies.


      Washington Week: ASTHO Hosts Conversation With HRSA Leadership, COVID-19 Debrief Dinner

      ASTHO Hosts Conversation With HRSA Leadership, COVID-19 Debrief DinnerFollowing the board meeting, S/THO’s moved into our first open session of Washington Week: “Advancing Health Together: A Conversation with HRSA Leadership.” HRSA administrator Tom Engels delivered opening remarks, after which ASTHO President Nate Smith (SHO-AR) facilitated conversations between members of HRSA Leadership and S/THOs. The conversations focused on a variety of topics, including supporting the health workforce, increasing access to care in rural areas, advancing maternal and child health, integrating behavioral health care services, and ending the HIV epidemic. After the HRSA session, SHOs moved into a discussion on COVID-19 lead by Jay Butler (Alum – AK, CDC Deputy Director for Infectious Disease), with a dinner and networking reception ending the day’s activities.


      Washington Week: S/THOs Attend Leadership Sessions at Georgetown University Law Center

      Washington Week 2020: S/THOs Attend Leadership Sessions at Georgetown University Law CenterOn Tuesday, Feb. 25, 45 S/THOs convened at the Georgetown University Law Center for the Medicaid and Public Health Partnerships workshop. Joined by Surgeon General Jerome Adams, Georgetown staff, as well as panelists from organizations such as Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, and the Bipartisan Policy Center, discussion focused on issues such as increasing access to care, options for non-Medicaid expansion states to provide enhanced coverage, interactions with governors and health industry payers, and court challenges to the Affordable Care Act. Following the end of the workshop, STHOs were taken to the White House for a meeting on the response to COVID-19.


      Washington Week: ASTHO Alumni Host Mentoring Event

      Elsewhere on Tuesday afternoon, members from the ASTHO Alumni Society attended Washington Week to support investing and strengthening public health agencies and their leadership. Alumni participated in mentor training and shared strategies for helping new SHOs identify a clear definition of success in their new roles. For the first year ever, alumni also attended ASTHO’s Hill Day to meet with members of Congress and their staff, advocate for public health, and promote ASTHO’s legislative agenda.


      Washington Week: ASTHO Members and Affiliates Convene on Capitol Hill for Day of Public Health Advocacy

      Washington Week 2020: ASTHO Members and Affiliates Convene on Capitol Hill for Day of Public Health AdvocacyOn Feb. 26, ASTHO, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), and members of the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC), State Associations of County and City Health Officials (SACCHOs), and the National Association of Local Boards of Health (NALBOH) held our annual Hill Day to share the message of the critical need for sustained, predictable investments in public health. Senator John Boozman of Arkansas kicked off the day with remarks to the ASTHO and NACCHO membership. While on Capitol Hill, ASTHO members and alumni met with representatives from 31 states and territories as well as key leadership of the House and Senate appropriations committees. Health officials discussed their states’ needs as they respond to and prepare for COVID-19, the need for bipartisan support for improved CDC funding, and top priorities for advancing public health in their home state. To continue the conversation at home, see ASTHO’s suite of advocacy materials.


      Washington Week: State, Territorial, and Local Health Officials Meet with White House to Discuss COVID-19 Response

      Washington Week 2020: State, Territorial, and Local Health Officials Meet with White House to Discuss COVID-19 ResponseOn the evening of Feb. 25, ASTHO and NACCHO members gathered at the White House for a meeting with administration officials and federal health agency leadership. At the forefront of the agenda was the cross-governmental response to COVID-19. As the outbreak evolves—and sustained transmissions likely occur in U.S. communities—coordinated response efforts across all levels of government will be critical. The meeting provided an opportunity for leaders across agencies and jurisdictions to voice their unique concerns, perspectives, and needs as efforts ramp up. The central message of the convening was that state and local agencies will carry out the ground work of the response, with federal agencies ready and willing to help however necessary.

      Washington Week: ASTHO Holds Joint Policy Committee Meeting on Food Safety

      Washington Week 2020: ASTHO Holds Joint Policy Committee Meeting on Food SafetyOn Feb. 27, ASTHO hosted a food safety meeting with members of ASTHO’s environmental health and infectious disease policy committees and staff from CDC, FDA and USDA. Meeting topics included a federal overview of food safety programs, tools and technologies for a smarter food safety system, the food safety workforce and incorporating a comprehensive approach to food safety. The discussions from the meeting helped policy committee members finalize policy considerations for an ASTHO policy statement on food safety.




      Washington Week: ASTHO, HRSA Convene to Share State Strategies to End the HIV Epidemic

      Washington Week 2020: ASTHO, HRSA Convene to Share State Strategies to End the HIV EpidemicAlso on Feb. 27, ASTHO, with support from HRSA, hosted a meeting to develop collaborative state partnerships to end the HIV epidemic. State teams from Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Missouri, and Oklahoma were in attendance, along with NACCHO, CDC, and the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD). Teams discussed partnerships and strategies to address stigma, shape policy, and build relationships to reach populations not currently engaged in care. States also discussed approaches to improve cultural competency in healthcare settings and engage community members in policy development.


    • ASTHO Hosts Public Health Systems Improvement Workshop

      ASTHO Hosts Public Health Systems Improvement Workshop (Feb. 2020)From Feb. 11-12, state teams from Alaska, Indiana, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Wyoming gathered for the Public Health Systems Improvement Workshop at ASTHO’s offices in Arlington, Virginia. Over the two-day convening, teams participated in several interactive team modeling sessions to build knowledge, skills, and peer networks to support their health agencies' performance improvement projects. Session topics reflected the cross-cutting nature of this work and included communicating with leadership, managing cross-departmental projects, and using data visualization techniques to drive decision making. The teams also had an opportunity to meet one-on-one and in small groups to workshop projects to improve performance management systems or plan alignment and implementation. To see the states' progress throughout the next six months of this ASTHO Systems Improvement Learning Community, check ASTHO's State and Territory Public Health Systems Improvement Capacity Building and Technical Assistance Project page.


    • ASTHO Kicks off Fundraising for March for Babies 2020

      On Feb. 11, ASTHO staff gathered at our headquarters in Arlington, Virginia to enjoy bagels and coffee and kick off fundraising for the 2020 March for Babies program—an initiative led by the March of Dimes that raises funds for programs and services that help provide exceptional medical care to moms and babies both in the greater Washington metro area and around the country. Staff were encouraged to donate a minimum of $5 dollars to ASTHO’s fundraising team to participate in the bagel breakfast. To date, ASTHO has raised over $1,000 for this year’s March for Babies initiative. Many thanks to staff who made this event such a great success!


    • Boundary-Spanning Leadership Workshop

      Boundary-Spanning Leadership Workshop (Feb. 2020)On Feb. 5 and 6, ASTHO’s leadership and learning team was in Boise, Idaho, facilitating a boundary spanning leadership (BSL) workshop. There were 38 staff (public health, social services and Medicaid) who met to implement the Get Healthy Idaho Initiative through the Braiding and Layering project. The second day included Elke Shaw-Tulloch (SHO-ID), who also participated in the initial May 2019 BSL workshop. Participants reflected about the importance of relationship building with peers across the public health division and other umbrella organizations in the department. Other staff reflected how smart and passionate their colleagues were and how it took a facilitator and the BSL process to help bring it out so that they could all “see the opportunity in the room.”


    • ASTHO Attends Center for Health Care Strategies Convening on Population Health

      On Feb. 6, Mary Ann Cooney, ASTHO’s chief of health equity, attended a meeting hosted by Center for Health Care Strategies to review and refine key findings from CHCS’ recent interviews with key stakeholders that identified some of the key elements that support Medicaid/public health partnerships. Participants weighed in on: (1) high-value opportunities to strengthen strategic partnerships between Medicaid and public health, (2) critical success factors to support effective cross-sector implementation, and (3) external supports that can facilitate these efforts.

    • ASTHO, U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health Identify Key Elements of Agency’s Strategic Plan

      ASTHO USVI Identify Key Elements of Strategic Plan (Feb. 2020)Following a kickoff in October, U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health leaders and data experts reconvened this week to review preliminary results of the new USVI Community Health Assessment. Building on a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis and an environmental scan, Justa Encarnacion (THO-USVI), senior deputies, and CDC partners identified a vision, mission, values, a central challenge, and strategic priorities to build key components of their agency’s strategic plan.


    • ASTHO Attends National Homeland Security Consortium

      ASTHO Attends National Homeland Security Consortium (Jan. 2020)ASTHO staffers Gerrit Bakker and Lisa Peterson attended the National Homeland Security Consortium meeting in Little Rock, AR on Jan. 22. The meeting included discussions on ways to build a culture of cyber preparedness, presentations from DHS on current biodetection methods, and a breakdown of a new framework designed to combat terrorism and targeted violence. Gerrit Bakker and Lisa Peterson also attended the ASTHO/NEMA/GHSAC meeting in Little Rock, AK on Jan. 23. Randall Williams (SHO-MO), as chair of the ASTHO Preparedness Policy Committee, is a chairmember of ASTHO/NEMA/GHSAC. Other attendees included ASTHO President Nate Smith (SHO-AR), John Hellerstedt (SHO-TX), Alexia Harrist (SHO-WY), and Parham Jaberi (senior deputy-VA).


    • ASTHO, South Carolina Prepare for Accreditation Review

      ASTHO SC Prepare for Accreditation Review (Jan. 2020)On Jan. 22-23, Richard Toomey (SHO-SC) and Nick Davidson (senior deputy-SC), along with South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) staff and their governing entity participated in a two day mock site visit with ASTHO staff to prepare for the state’s Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) process. ASTHO's Performance Improvement team played the role of mock site visitors to prepare and coach SCHDEC staff on how they can demonstrate that the department’s work meets PHAB standards. Staff from Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDOH) also had the opportunity to attend SCHDEC's mock site visit to act as observers as they prepare for PRDOH's own accreditation efforts.


    • ASTHO Hosts Coronavirus Brief With Top Media Outlets

      ASTHO Hosts Coronavirus Brief With Top Media Outlets (Jan. 2020)On Jan. 22, ASTHO hosted a media briefing to discuss the first confirmed U.S. case of novel coronavirus and current U.S. preparedness and response efforts in the wake of China’s outbreak. Speakers included ASTHO President Nate Smith (SHO-AR), Howard Zucker (SHO-NY), John Wiesman (SHO-WA), and ASTHO’s chief of health security Jim Blumenstock. The call was attended by leading national media outlets, including the Associated Press, the Washington Post, NPR, STAT, Politico, USA Today, Politico, USA Today, CNN, Bloomberg, and the Wall Street Journal.


    • ASTHO Participates in National Day of Racial Healing

      On Jan. 21, ASTHO staff virtually attended the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's celebration of the fourth annual National Day of Racial Healing. The Foundation livestreamed a multimedia event from The REACH campus at the Kennedy Center that included musical performances, activist panels, advocates, and video vignettes that showcased racial healing successes across the country. During and after the livestream, ASTHO staff were encouraged to reflect on their own race and ethnicity and the impact it has had on their professional and personal lives.


    • ASTHO Leaders Attend IBM Watson Demonstration

      ASTHO Leaders Attend IBM Watson Demonstration (Jan. 2020)What’s the buzz about artificial intelligence and how will this new technology impact public health? Several state health officials took part in an ASTHO Bright Spots visit to IBM offices in Cambridge, MA on Jan. 17 to find out. William Kassler (Alum-NH), deputy chief health officer and lead population health officer for IBM Watson, showed how artificial intelligence and machine learning could assist public health officials in surveillance, data collection, and decision making. ASTHO members Nirav Shah (SHO-ME), Monica Bharel (SHO-MA), Mylynn Tufte (SHO-ND), and Renee Coleman-Mitchell (CT) were on site for the demonstration. Tufte reflected, “It's exciting to SEE and hear about what's happening in the private sector and how public health can be a part of innovative technologies.”

    • ASTHO Members Testify to Congress About State Opioid Plans

      ASTHO Members Testify to Congress About State Opioid Plans (Jan. 2020)On Jan. 14, Monica Bharel (SHO-MA) and Nicole Alexander-Scott (SHO-RI) testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. The hearing, entitled "A Public Health Emergency: State Efforts to Curb the Opioid Crisis," also featured three other state witnesses, including Kody Kinsley (North Carolina), Jennifer Smith (Pennsylvania), and Christina Mullins (West Virginia). The testimonies focused on state efforts and successes in addressing the opioid epidemic, as well as additional areas in which Congress can continue to support states as they tackle the epidemic. The testimonies from Bharel and Alexander-Scott were critical in supporting the committee’s interest in providing additional funding to assist states in tackling not only the opioid crisis but other emerging substance use and overdose trends.


    • ASTHO Attends 6|18 Initiative Meeting in Atlanta

      ASTHO Attends 6|18 Initiative Meeting in Atlanta_Jan 2020On Jan. 14 and 15, ASTHO staff (Mike Fraser, Mary Ann Cooney, Alex Kearly and Erin Bayer) participated in the “Advancing Medicaid and Public Health Implementation of CDC’s 6|18 Initiative” convening in Atlanta. The meeting was hosted by the Center for Health Care Strategies with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, ASTHO, the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The purpose of the meeting was to accelerate public health and Medicaid alignment on prevention strategies, promote peer to peer connections across states and territories, and develop action plans to accelerate adoption of 6|18 interventions. Over forty states and territories have been involved in the 6|18 Initiative, and the current cohort (18 states and territories) will work in the coming year to implement evidence-based interventions, with ASTHO providing technical assistance and capacity building to support these efforts.


    • ASTHO Convenes National Leadership at Data Modernization Meeting

      ASTHO Convenes National Leadership at Data Modernization Meeting (Jan. 2020)To kick off the new year, ASTHO hosted a leader-to-leader roundtable on Jan. 9 with S/THOs, federal partners, and public health organizations on public health data sharing and modernization. S/THOs from a wide range of states—Alaska, Maine, Iowa, Louisiana, Virginia, North Dakota, Washington, South Dakota, Arkansas, Pennsylvania—were on hand for this important discussion. Federal partners present included CDC, HRSA, NIH, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). Public health organizations that participated include several ASTHO affiliate members: APHL, AIRA, NAPHSIS, NACCHO, and CSTE. The interactive session provided an opportunity for all stakeholders to contribute to the discussion on what resources and coordination would be needed to achieve a national model for data sharing, modernization, and public health reporting. ASTHO is poised to build a national framework as we continue the conversation amongst all stakeholders and drive movement forward with our federal partners.

     
  • 2019Expand to review ASTHO's 2019 From the Field dispatches.
    • ASTHO Holds Annual Holiday Luncheon

      ASTHO Holds Annual Holiday Luncheon (Dec. 2019)On Dec. 12, ASTHO staff gathered at Blackwall Hitch in Alexandria, VA for our annual end-of-year luncheon. The event was a great opportunity to step back from our day-to-day work and celebrate all that we accomplished as an organization in 2019. Staff enjoyed conversation over food and drinks, participated in a company-wide raffle, and (a few of us!) donned our favorite holiday sweaters. We now head into the end-of-year break to relax, connect with family and friends, and prepare for a great 2020 with our colleagues and partners.


    • ASTHO Convenes Meeting to Tackle Infectious Diseases Associated with Drug Use

      ASTHO Convenes Meeting to Tackle Infectious Diseases Associated with Drug Use (Dec. 2019)On Dec. 9-10, ASTHO met with Angela Dearinger (SHO-KY), Catherine Slemp (SHO-WV), and state leadership teams from Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia to develop a cross-jurisdictional response framework for prevention and response to HIV and viral hepatitis clusters associated with drug use. Participants discussed policy options, tactics, and coordination strategies to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Experts from CDC and peer jurisdictions presented on cross-jurisdictional data sharing, harm reduction programs, and strategies to build capacity through key partnerships. Staff from ASTHO and CDC facilitated strategic planning sessions and identified opportunities for ongoing technical assistance.


    • ASTHO Hosts Leadership Summit

      ASTHO Hosts Leadership Summit Dec 2019From Dec. 8-11, the ASTHO Leadership Summit was held in Greensboro, NC in partnership with expert facilitators from the Center for Creative Leadership. ASTHO members spent time learning from each other during skill development sessions, met in-person with an executive coach, and were joined by ASTHO alumni Dr. Celeste Philip (FL) and Susan Cooper (TN), who shared experiences and lessons learned about leadership during difficult times.


    • ASTHO Participates in National Governors Association Meeting on Immunizations

      On Dec. 5, ASTHO’s director of immunizations, Kim Martin, attended a National Governors Association’s (NGA) summit entitled “Addressing the Spread of Vaccine Preventable Disease.” Officials from 28 states and territories, including Renee Coleman-Mitchell (SHO-CT), Nirav Shah (SHO-ME), and Mark Levine (SHO-VT), as well as national and state experts, engaged in dialogue about legislative, communication, and policy strategies to improve vaccination rates and protect communities from vaccine-preventable diseases. Key themes included policy levers to reduce disease and improve vaccination rates, use of data and partnerships to improve vaccine uptake, social media and communication considerations to address vaccine hesitancy, and healthcare provider or coalition interventions to engage parents.


    • ASTHO Joins Healthy Brain Initiative Planning Lab

      ASTHO Joins Healthy Brain Initiative Planning Lab (Dec. 2019)From Dec. 4-5, teams from Arizona, California, Idaho, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Wyoming gathered for the Healthy Brain Initiative (HBI) Planning Lab in Orlando, FL. This 2-day intensive workshop is the first of its kind to support participating states in action planning from the HBI Road Map. By the end of the session, each team developed a mission statement, two goals, and several related strategies to build a public health infrastructure supportive of people living with dementia and their caregivers. The teams were accompanied by CDC, Alzheimer’s Association, and Emory Train Centers. Interested in participating in a workshop like this? Look out for the HBI Action Institutes, coming soon to a region near you.


    • ASTHO, CDC Shape Public Health Leadership Development Plan

      ASTHO CDC Shape Public Health Leadership Development Plan (Dec. 2019)Members of ASTHO’s senior deputy and chief financial officer committee met with CDC leaders this week, including John Dreyzehner (alum-TN, director, CDC Center for Preparedness and Response), to discuss strategies to strengthen public health funding and address emerging health threats. The group also discussed tactics to support a coordinated effort to strengthen skills for senior leaders in health agencies. Across conversations, leaders focused on creating a shared vision between CDC and state and territorial health leaders.


    • ASTHO Leaders Attend PFAS Grand Rounds

      ASTHO Leaders Attend PFAS Grand Rounds, Nov. 2019On Nov. 19, ASTHO CMO Marcus Plescia and Chief of Caribbean Operations Danny Staley attended a CDC Grand Rounds session titled “PFAS and Protecting Your Health.” The session focused on research and program needs to address the many health risks associated with PFAS, and also detailed the history of PFAS contamination in the United States. Presenters discussed Michigan’s PFAS response efforts, a new CDC supported multi-site health study, and a community perspective on PFAS contamination.


    • ASTHO and NACCHO Host Joint Congressional Telebriefing on Vaping

      On Nov. 18, ASTHO and NACCHO held a joint telebriefing for congressional staff to provide an update on electronic cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injuries (EVALI). Dr. Monica Bharel (SHO-MA) and Dr. Susan Palchik (Hennepin County, MN director of public health) spoke on the rapid responses state and local health departments rolled out in response to the outbreak.


    • ASTHO Leaders Visit Pacific Island Members

      ASTHO Leaders Visit Pacific Island Members (Nov. 2019)From Nov. 11-18, Mike Fraser (CEO, ASTHO) and Karl Ensign (chief, performance improvement, research, and evaluation) visited members from three Pacific island territories-- Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, and Chuuk State in the Federated States of Micronesia. They were accompanied by Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support (CSTLTS) Director Dr. Jose Montero and Bill Gallo from the CSTLTS Office of Insular Affairs. The goal of the trip was to hear more about territorial priority areas, share thoughts with CDC on capacity building activities, and connect with partners in the Pacific who are working on our shared goal of developing strong and healthy Pacific islands. A great deal of the trip focused on addressing significant chronic disease challenges in the region, especially obesity and diabetes, meeting with staff delivering and administering services, and touring a wide range of facilities.


    • ASTHO Alum Jay Butler Speaks on Influenza Panel

      ASTHO Alum Jay Butler Speaks on Influenza Panel_2019On Nov. 13, Jay Butler (alum-AK) spoke at a briefing hosted by the Urgent Care Association and the American College of Cardiology about preparation efforts for the 2019-2020 influenza season. The panel discussed the burden of seasonal flu in relation to illness, hospitalizations, and absenteeism, and also shared effective responses to misconceptions about the flu vaccine. Panelists emphasized the importance of flu vaccination to prevent illness, the importance of urgent care centers in providing access to the vaccine, and the effect of flu on those with underlying chronic diseases. Other panel members included Dr. Richard Park (founder and chief executive officer, City MD) and Dr. Andrew Choi (assistant professor of cardiology, George Washington University).


    • ASTHO and CDC Host Neurological Conditions Surveillance Summit

      ASTHO and CDC Host Neurological Conditions Surveillance Summit Attendees (2019)On Nov. 5, ASTHO’s Data Analytics and Public Health Informatics team, in partnership with CDC, hosted and facilitated a Neurological Conditions Surveillance Summit at CDC headquarters in Atlanta. ASTHO invited and engaged over 30 stakeholders in the neurological conditions space to discuss data needs around prevalence/incidence, improved data collection efforts, and advocacy for neurological conditions. CDC also provided an update on their National Neurological Conditions Surveillance System. Several stakeholders noted the existence of neurological disease specific registries or mandated reporting in their county or state, but many agreed that this data wasn’t routinely collected at the state or national level, and that current estimates still contain gaps. ASTHO plans to distill actionable information from the meeting to S/THOs to encourage better data capture for neurological conditions.


    • Karyl Rattay Speaks at Capitol Hill Briefing

      Karyl Rattay Speaks at Capitol Hill Briefing (Nov. 2019)On Nov. 7, Karyl Rattay (SHO-DE) spoke at the 2019 March of Dimes Report Card briefing panel on Capitol Hill. The panel was moderated by Rahul Gupta (alum-WV), Senior Vice President and CMO of March of Dimes, and educated members of Congress and their staff about the impact of preterm births and the organization’s 2019 report card, which highlights progress and actions to improve the health of moms and babies in the United States. Other members of the panel included Tiffany Spina (patient advocate), Dr. Zsakeba Henderson (Medical Officer, Maternal and Infant Health Branch, Division of Reproductive Health, CDC) and Dr. Andrew Bremer (Acting Chief, Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development, NIH).


    • ASTHO Staff, Members, and Alum Attend APHA 2019

      ASTHO Staff Members,and Alum Attend APHA 2019From Nov. 2-6, ASTHO colleagues, leaders, members, and alumnus attended the American Public Health Association (APHA) 2019 annual meeting. The theme of this year’s meeting was "Creating the Healthiest Nation: For science. For action. For health." The convening looks to further the practice of public health by sharing the latest research and information, promoting best practices, and advocating for public health issues and policies grounded in research. In addition to attending presentations and meet-ups, ASTHO staff shared their expertise as speakers on a number of panels throughout the conference. Next year’s meeting will take place in San Francisco, CA.


    • ASTHO Holds Strategic Planning Session with North Carolina Division of Public Health

      ASTHO Holds Strategic Planning Session with NC Division of Public Health_2019On Oct. 31, ASTHO's Performance Improvement team visited with Mark Benton (SHO-NC) and his leadership team at the North Carolina Division of Public Health (NC DPH) to kick off the division's strategic planning process. ASTHO facilitated a session that included 25 division staff with the goal of identifying the agency's strategic priorities. Participants heard from Beth Lovette (Deputy Director, NCDPH) on the results of an environmental scan that identified emerging public health trends and challenges in North Carolina. The scan also identified the agency's strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities and threats to consider when formulating its strategic priorities.


    • ASTHO Holds Company-Wide Health Equity Training

      ASTHO Employees at Company-Wide Health Equity Training (2019)On Oct. 30, ASTHO held an organization-wide training on advancing health equity. The session, presented by Human Impact Partners, shared insight on what health equity is, how we can advance it in our immediate work, and we how can work towards transformative, systems-level change for the future. In addition to viewing presentations, staff participated in exercises to deepen understanding of equity as a concept and to explore how our individual backgrounds shape the way we think about equity issues. A second training is scheduled for January.


    • ASTHO Hosts Directors of Public Health Preparedness Meeting in Minneapolis, MN

      ASTHO Hosts Directors of Public Health Preparedness Meeting in Minneapolis, MN (2019)From Oct. 21-24, ASTHO hosted the 15th Annual ASTHO Directors of Public Health Preparedness Meeting in Minneapolis, MN. The meeting brought together the directors of the 62 Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) and Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) recipients, federal leaders, and partner organizations to discuss emerging domestic and global public health threats, state and local practices to improve preparedness and response capabilities, and new developments in federal policies and cooperative agreements. Joe Henderson from Harvard University’s National Preparedness Leadership Initiative facilitated a Preparedness Leadership Summit, and Dr. Robert Kadlec, Dr. Stephen Redd, and Dr. John Dreyzehner (alum – TN) provided keynote addresses. Members participated in peer-to-peer panels, while ASPR and CDC shared their visions for the future of the HPP and PHEP programs.


    • ASTHO Leaders and Alumni Participate in CDC’s “Dialogue with Leaders” Series

      ASTHO Leaders and Alumni Participate in CDC's "Dialogue with Leaders Series" (2019)On Oct. 23, ASTHO alumni Jose Montero (NH) and Jay Buter (AK) and CEO Michael Fraser participated in a “Dialogue with Leaders” panel hosted by CDC’s Office of the Associate Director of Policy. The discussion was co-hosted by a number of ASTHO partners, including the National Governor’s Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the National Academy of State Policy. The event was attended by CDC staff interested in policy work at the state and territorial levels and highlighted state needs and priorities.


    • ASTHO Participates in Children’s Environmental Health Day

      ASTHO Participates in Children’s Environmental Health Day (2019)On Oct. 10, ASTHO’s environmental health team participated in Children’s Environmental Health Day hosted by the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN). As an official sponsor of the event, ASTHO participated in a Twitter chat focused on environmental health hazards and interventions in early learning and childcare environments. CEHN also hosted an awards ceremony at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University , where child health advocates were recognized for contributions in the fields of science, community, advocacy, business, and youth leadership.


    • ASTHO Holds Strategic Planning Summit With U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health

      ASTHO Holds Strategic Planning Summit With US Virgin Islands Department of Health (2019)On Oct. 16 and 17, ASTHO and CDC leadership convened with USVI Department of Health leadership, community partners, and data stewards to kick off a yearlong health planning process that will lead to a comprehensive health assessment and strategic plan. The assessment and plan will guide the work of USVI DOH for years to come and will begin to fulfill Public Health Accreditation Board requirements. Staff articulated core values, a vision, opportunities, and threats related to this work. Additionally, community partners discussed the importance of community input and how to collectively facilitate engagement and communication. The planning coalition will reconvene in winter 2020 to review population and health system data.


    • ASTHO Holds Accreditation Workshop With the Puerto Rico Department of Health

      ASTHO Holds Accreditation Workshop With the Puerto Rico Department of Health (Oct. 2019)From Oct. 8-10, ASTHO was in Puerto Rico assisting the Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDOH) as the agency continues its journey towards accreditation. Secretary of Health Rafael Rodriguez Mercado provided opening remarks to over 40 staff across various secretariats. ASTHO’s Performance Improvement team then facilitated 12 domain workshops to assess and analyze documentation for accreditation. PRDOH Assistant Secretary and ASTHO member Catherine DeLa Cruz joined staff in examining how the agency’s programs, policies, and practices are aligned with PHAB requirements.


    • ASTHO Leaders Visit New S/THO in U.S. Virgin Islands

      ASTHO Leaders Visit New S-THO in U.S. Virgin Islands_2019Mike Fraser (CEO, ASTHO) and Danny Staley (Chief of Caribbean Operations, ASTHO) visited with Justa Encarnacion (THO-USVI) and her leadership team last week in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. They spent the day reviewing current agency structure and function, sharing ways to get engaged with ASTHO peer groups and policy committees, and learning about the priorities and opportunities for health improvement in the USVI. Among the many items discussed were health information technology support, behavioral health, and linking clinical and community care.


    • ASTHO Director of Health and Homeland Security Presents On Emergency Preparedness

      On Sept. 28, Lisa Peterson (Director of Health and Homeland Security, ASTHO) presented at an event in Prince George’s County, MD titled “Creating Resilient Communities.” Lisa’s presentation to the community described the role of public health in an emergency. She also described science-backed steps that people can take before, during, and after emergencies.


    • ASTHO Holds 2019 Annual Meeting & Policy Summit

      ASTHO Holds 2019 Annual Meeting and Policy SummitFrom Sept. 23-25, ASTHO hosted its 2019 Annual Meeting and Policy Summit in Bethesda, MD. The meeting brought together our members, federal and local leaders, experts across industries, and ASTHO staff for three days of learning and collaboration. Attendees participated in small group discussions, networking sessions, Q&A sessions with expert panels, and more. In addition to the record 40 state health officials present, the meeting was attended by U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams (ASTHO alum – IL) and leadership from CDC and HHS. View a full recap of the meeting here.


    • Five ASTHO Members Testify Before Congress

      Five ASTHO Members Testify Before Congress (Sept. 2019)From Sept. 24-25, five health officials testified before two Congressional committees to discuss the public health impacts of e-cigarette use and the current vaporizer-linked lung disease outbreak. Illinois State Health Official Ngozi Ezike testified to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, and state health officials from Michigan, North Carolina, Kansas, and Massachusetts testified to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Reform. Below is the full list of members who delivered testimonies:
         - Joneigh Khaldun, chief deputy director for health and chief medical executive, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
         - Elizabeth Tilson, state health director and chief medical officer, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
         - Lee Norman, secretary, Kansas Department of Health and Environment
         - Monica Bharel, commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Public Health
         - Ngozi Ezike, director, Illinois Department of Health

       

    • Performance Improvement Team Conducts Workshop with the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health

      Performance Improvement Team Conducts Workshop with the USVI Department of Health (Sept. 2019)On Sept. 17-20, ASTHO’s Performance Improvement team hosted the second of three business process improvement workshops with the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health (USVI DOH). Over 30 USVI DOH staff helped create and finalize process maps for recruitment, procurement, and expenditure reviews. The workshop enabled participants to challenge current health department processes and gain a deeper understanding of the process improvement cycle. Participants were encouraged to innovate and make hands-on contributions to improve the organization’s workflows. A third and final workshop is planned for early November, at which we will finalize plans developed in the first two meetings.


    • ASTHO Alumni Group Convenes in Bethesda, MD

      ASTHO Alumni Group Convenes in Bethesda MD (Sept. 2019)On Sept. 24, a group of 27 ASTHO alumni gathered to discuss the future of public health and the influence they carry in their current roles to improve health outcomes. ASTHO thanks this group for their continued dedication to the field. We also congratulate Paul Halverson (former SHO – AR) as the recipient of the 2019 ASTHO Alumni Award. The expertise of ASTHO alumni continues to add great value to ASTHO staff, affiliates, and current state and territorial health officials.


    • ASTHO Attends Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response Meeting

      ASTHO Attends Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response Meeting (2019)From Sept. 18-19, ASTHO staff participated in the Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response (CIFOR) meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota to finalize the third edition of CIFOR’s Guidelines for Foodborne Disease Outbreak Response. CIFOR is a collaboration of national associations and federal agencies that has worked together since 2006 to improve methods to detect, investigate, control, and prevent foodborne disease outbreaks. Council members include experts in epidemiology, environmental health, public health laboratory activities, and food regulation at the local, state, and federal levels.


    • ASTHO Staff Presents at 2019 Legionella Conference

      ASTHO Staff Presents at 2019 Legionella ConferenceOn Sept. 11-13, ASTHO staff attended and presented at the 2019 Legionella Conference, hosted by NSF International and the National Environmental Health Association. The conference focused on how water systems industries, public health, and other stakeholders in water management can align water and energy sustainability goals with public health priorities. Staff presented on how health officials are changing their responses to disease outbreaks in light of the criminal charges handed to government leaders in the Flint, Michigan water crisis. Staff also presented on the results of an environmental scan and gap analysis led by ASTHO that looked at S/THA approaches for the surveillance, testing, response, and notification of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks.


    • ASTHO at the Coalition for Health Funding’s Public Health Fair

      ASTHO at the Coalition for Health Funding’s Public Health Fair (2019)On Sept. 12, ASTHO and NACCHO represented state, territorial, local, and tribal governmental public health on Capitol Hill at the Coalition for Health Funding’s Public Health Fair. The fair offered members of Congress, congressional staff, and the community an opportunity to interact with ASTHO and NACCHO staff, participate in our interactive trivia game, and learn more about the importance of partnership between health stakeholders at all levels of government. The fair was also attended by representatives from non-profit organizations, private companies, federal government agencies, and others that are working to improve the nation’s health.


    • ASTHO Meets with Delaware Government Leaders

      ASTHO at Delaware Contraceptive Access Now Meeting (2019)On Sept. 10, ASTHO provided a federal and state health update during a meeting with Delaware Governor John Carney, State Health Official Karyl Rattay, representatives from the offices of Senator Tom Carper, Senator Chris Coons, and Congresswoman Blunt Rochester, the Delaware Division of Public Health, and other partners. The purpose of this meeting was to celebrate state accomplishments of the Delaware Contraceptive Access Now (DE CAN) program. DE CAN, a partnership between Upstream and the state of Delaware since 2014, worked collaboratively to reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy by providing access for all women in the state to the full range of contraceptive methods. From 2013 through 2017, there was a 24% decrease in unintended pregnancies among family planning clients, while the US saw only a 3% decrease over the same time period.

    • ASTHO Participates in Public Health Accreditation Board Think Tank

      ASTHO Participates in Public Health Accreditation Board Think Tank (2019)ASTHO was one of many public health and federal organizations who participated in the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) Data Surveillance and Informatics Think Tank from Sept. 10-11, 2019. ASTHO contributed to the discussion by sharing the current state and capacity of informatics for state health agencies and participating in brainstorming around updating the accreditation measures for informatics and data surveillance. Other participants included our partners NACCHO, CSTE, the Public Health Informatics Institute, and several state and local health department staff.


    • ASTHO Attends CDC Hypertension Control Meeting

      ASTHO Attends CDC Hypertension Control MeetingOn Sept. 9-10, Randall Williams (SHO - Missouri), Mike Fraser (CEO, ASTHO), and Marcus Plescia (CMO, ASTHO) attended the CDC Hypertension Control meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. The meeting focused on best practices and public-private partnerships to help move the rate of blood pressure control in individuals with hypertension from 50 to 80 percent.





    • ASTHO Continues Business Process Improvement Work with U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health

      ASTHO Continues Business Process Improvement Work with US Virgin Islands Department of HealthOn Aug. 21-23, ASTHO’s Performance Improvement team facilitated a business process improvement workshop with the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health (USVI DOH). Over 40 staff from USVI DOH and cross-governmental agencies participated in this detailed mapping of the department’s recruitment, procurement, and grants management processes. As part of ASTHO’s capacity building efforts in the U.S. territories, a representative of the Puerto Rico Department of Health participated and shared lessons learned from similar work being done in Puerto Rico. A follow-up workshop will take place in September.


    • ASTHO Hosts National Public Health Partners to Develop Coordinated HIV Strategy

      ASTHO Hosts National Public Health Partners to Develop Coordinated HIV Strategy (2019)On Aug. 29, ASTHO hosted a panel of national public health leaders to develop a shared strategy for HHS’s Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America initiative. Represented organizations include HHS, HRSA, CDC, NACCHO, NASTAD, NMAC, the National Coalition of STD Directors, Big Cities Health Coalition, AIDS United, and the AIDS Institute. The meeting focused on how federal, state, local, and cross-sector health partners can work together to maximize the impact of HIV treatment and prevention programs.


    • ASTHO Attends National Conference on Tobacco or Health

      ASTHO Attends National Conference on Tobacco or Health (2019)On Aug. 26-29, ASTHO staff attended the National Conference on Tobacco or Health in Minneapolis, MN. Over the course of the conference, staff convened an executive committee meeting of the Tobacco Control Network, gave poster presentations on ASTHO’s chronic disease prevention work, and co-facilitated a health equity training workshop. The conference’s opening session featured keynote remarks from Surgeon General Jerome Adams (alum-IN).





    • State Health Officials Attend ASTHO’s August Leadership Summit

      State Health Officials Attend ASTHO August 2019 Leadership SummitOn Aug. 19-23, ASTHO hosted the ASTHO Leadership Summit, Cohort 3, in Colorado Springs. During the week, Mylynn Tufte shared perspectives on leading a state agency and how she incorporated the agency values in her leadership practice. Samantha Scotti from NCSL spoke about working with state delegations and provided an overview of the 2020 races. ASTHO Chief of Government Relations Carolyn Mullen shared ASTHO’s federal policy priorities, resources ASTHO offers, and how the policy statement process works. On Wednesday, ASTHO hosted a dinner discussion with Alaska Gov. Bill Walker and Jay Butler (alumnus-AK) on how they worked together to align priority initiatives and communicate health messages. ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser shared information from the Public Health Workforce Interest and Needs Survey, with recommendations for state and territorial agency workforce development.


    • ASTHO Hosts the OMNI Learning Community Year Two Expansion Meeting

      ASTHO Hosts the OMNI Learning Community Year Two Expansion Meeting (Aug. 2019)On Aug. 20-22, ASTHO’s Maternal and Child Health team hosted the Opioid Use Disorder, Maternal Outcomes, and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Initiative (OMNI) Learning Community Year Two Expansion Meeting in Arlington, VA. The three-day gathering convened to support the learning community’s participants in developing and amending action plans to support policy implementation related to opioid use disorder among pregnant and postpartum women and infants prenatally exposed to opioids, including infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome. State health officials in attendance included Ali Harrist (SHO-WY) and Kristina Box (SHO-IN).


      PIHOA Staff Leaders Visit ASTHO

      PIHOA Staff Leaders Visit ASTHO (Aug. 2019)On Aug. 12-16, Karl Ensign, ASTHO’s Chief of Performance Improvement, Research and Evaluation, and Heidi Westermann, Director of Public Health Systems and Planning, met with leadership from the Pacific Islands Health Officers’ Association (PIHOA) at ASTHO’s headquarters in Arlington, VA. This month, PIHOA Executive Director Emi Chutaro, Deputy Director Janet Camacho, and other senior PIHOA staff are meeting with key partners, including officials from HRSA, HHS, and the U.S. Department of the Interior. ASTHO has a long and successful partnership with PIHOA, having collaborated on many initiatives and projects. Discussion included ongoing collaborative efforts, as well as policy and program strategies for the coming year. ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser will attend PIHOA’s Executive Board Meeting in November.


    • ASTHO Participates in Crimson Contagion Exercise

      ASTHO Participates in Crimson Contagion ExerciseOn Aug. 13-16, ASTHO participated in a four-day pandemic influenza exercise directed by the assistant secretary for preparedness and response (ASPR). As part of this activity, ASTHO activated an emergency operations center (EOC) staffed by several teams. On the second day, staff from NACCHO and APHL joined ASTHO in the EOC (CSTE joined virtually) to engage in collaborative work and information sharing. Activities included requests for assistance from states, federal agencies, and other partners. Simultaneously, the EOC worked on methods to support ASTHO, such as critical staff shortages. States representing each region of the country participated, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Illinois, New Mexico, Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, and the city of Chicago. Participating federal agencies included ASPR, CDC, FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Energy, and many others.


    • ASTHO and Arkansas Department of Health Host Regions IV and VI Meeting

      ASTHO and Arkansas Department of Health Host Regions IV and VI Meeting (2019)On Aug. 15-16, ASTHO and the Arkansas Department of Health hosted the Regions IV and VI State Health Officials’ meeting in Little Rock, AR. Topics discussed included: public health challenges for states along the U.S.-Mexico border, preparedness related to the Ebola crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as clinical services offered by county health departments. State health officials in attendance included: Rick Toomey (SHO-SC), Scott Harris (SHO-AL), Lisa Piercey (SHO-TN), Thomas Bates (SHO-OK), Nathaniel Smith (SHO-AR), Alex Billioux (SHO-LA), Mark Benton (SHO-NC), Abinash Achrekar (SHO-NM), John Hellerstedt (SHO-TX), and Thomas Dobbs (SHO-MS). Also in attendance were senior leadership from state health agencies and HHS Region IV and VI regional health administrators.


    • ASTHO Hosts Tabletop Exercise at Georgia Department of Health

      ASTHO Hosts Tabletop Exercise at Georgia Department of Health (Aug 2019)On Aug. 8, ASTHO’s preparedness and social and behavioral health teams joined colleagues from the Georgia Department of Public Health to plan, develop, and execute a tabletop exercise. The exercise centered around a simulated opioid overdose cluster spike and included representatives from state and local public health, law enforcement, and CDC. The primary objective was to pilot a new ASTHO Opioid Rapid Response Team Guidebook for developing a team to augment a state’s incident management structure. Preliminary evaluation responses indicate that the guidebook was a useful and effective tool. A special thanks to Georgia Department of Public Health planning partners.


    • State Health Officials and Preparedness Directors Join ASTHO-NEMA-GHSAC Workgroup

      State Health Officials and Preparedness Directors Join ASTHO-NEMA-GHSAC Workgroup (August 2019)On Aug. 1, Randall Williams (SHO-MO) and Kristina Box (SHO-IN), along with representatives from ASTHO’s directors of public health preparedness peer group, participated in a semi-annual joint policy workgroup meeting in Louisville. The workgroup is hosted by ASTHO in collaboration with the Governors Homeland Security Advisors Council (GHSAC) and the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA). The group brings together public health, homeland security, and emergency management to address cross-cutting issues. Topics included migrant border health, Ebola preparedness, cyber attacks on the public health system, and combating vaccination misinformation. This partnership is now completing its tenth year and remains a cornerstone activity of ASTHO’s preparedness portfolio.


    • ASTHO Hosts Breastfeeding and Infant Nutrition Training

      ASTHO Hosts Breastfeeding and Infant Nutrition Training (July 2019)ASTHO’s Maternal and Child Health team hosted the ASTHO Breastfeeding and Early Life Nutrition Innovation Sustainability Training on July 30-31, 2019 in Asheville, North Carolina. This two-day gathering brought together State Physical Activity and Nutrition (SPAN) recipients and their partners to form a cohesive partnership between physical activity, nutrition and obesity prevention, early life nutrition and breastfeeding support. Participants collaborated on boundary spanning techniques for achieving success and maximum impact and explored innovative and equity focused breastfeeding interventions and implementation approaches.


    • Nathaniel Smith Serves on House Ways and Means Committee Task Force

      Nathaniel Smith Serves on House Ways and Means Committee Task Force (July 2019)Last week, Nate Smith (SHO-AR) participated in the first bipartisan “Rural and Underserved Communities Health Task Force” meeting hosted by the House Ways and Means Committee. Smith was part of a panel of outside experts who discussed the challenges of delivering health care in rural and underserved areas, and explored holistic bipartisan policy options that could improve outcomes and care in these communities.


    • ASTHO Hosts Third ASTHO Week, Deskside Briefing on Ebola

      ASTHO Hosts Third ASTHO Week, Deskside Briefing on Ebola (July 2019)On July 22-26, ASTHO hosted its third ASTHO Week. As a teleworking organization, ASTHO Week brings together all staff in ASTHO’s headquarters in Arlington, VA, for a week of collaboration, discussion, teambuilding, and organizational strategy. A highlight from the week included a Public Health Leader Roundtable on July 25 hosted by Nate Smith (SHO-AR) at Cornerstone Government Affairs’ offices in Washington, D.C. ASTHO convenes this informal gathering of about 50 top leaders in public health to inform state and territorial governmental public health and partner on current issues, activities, and advocacy efforts. During the meeting, participants received updates on congressional activities and shared the top public health issues their organizations are currently facing. Smith also addressed ASTHO’s staff, speaking about his career path, his work as a physician and its impact on his public health practice, priorities for his upcoming term as ASTHO’s president, and more. Later that afternoon, Smith joined David Lakey (alumnus-TX) and ASTHO leadership for a deskside media briefing on actions U.S. public health officials can take to prevent a domestic Ebola outbreak like the one currently occurring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


    • ASTHO Supports Development of Standard Operating Procedures in Puerto Rico and Peer-to-Peer Capacity Building Among Territories

      ASTHO Supports Development of Standard Operating Procedures in Puerto Rico and Peer-to-Peer Capacity Building Among Territories (July 2019)On July 9-10, ASTHO’s performance improvement team facilitated a second business process improvement workshop at the Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDOH). During the workshop, over 20 PRDOH staff came together to validate current processes and build standard operating procedures for procurement, property, and travel processes. As part of ASTHO’s capacity building efforts in the U.S. territories, Tatia Monell-Hewitt, chief financial officer of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health, participated to share expertise and lessons learned. This work is part of crisis funding to assess and enhance administrative processes that support public health infrastructure and funding.


    • John Hellerstedt Hosts CDC Leadership

      John Hellerstedt (SHO-TX) Hosts CDCOn July 17, ASTHO Region VI Director John Hellerstedt (SHO-TX) hosted CDC Director Robert Redfield and CSTLTS Director Jose Montero (alumnus-NH) at the Texas Department of Health to discuss the Administration’s plan for Ending the HIV Epidemic in America.




    • ASTHO Leadership and Behavioral Health Leaders Tour Philadelphia Correctional Facility

      ASTHO Leadership and Behavioral Health Leaders Tour Philadelphia Correctional FacilityOn July 16, Carolyn Mullen, ASTHO’s chief of government affairs and public relations attended a briefing and tour of the Philadelphia Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility along with Rob Morrison, executive director of the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, and other behavioral health leaders to learn more about the facility’s medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program. This briefing was led by Dr. Bruce Herdman, Chief of Medical Operations for the facility. In recent years the program has expanded to offer all forms of MAT and continuity of treatment following release of the inmates. This approach was recently featured in a SAMHSA publication titled, “The Use of MAT for Opioid Use Disorder in Criminal Justice Settings.”


    • ASTHO Attends Region III Priorities Summit

      ASTHO Attends Region III Priorities SummitOn July 17, Region III held their regional priorities summit. Attendees included several state health officials, behavioral health officials, federal government staff, and leadership staff from ASTHO, the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, and the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. Topics discussed during the summit included the judicial opioid care continuum, polysubstance regional trends, harm reduction programs, ending the HIV epidemic, vaccine hesitancy, and Lyme disease.


    • ASTHO and Utah Department of Health Host Opioid Tabletop Exercise

      ASTHO and Utah Department of Health Host Opioid Tabletop ExerciseASTHO’s preparedness and social and behavioral health teams joined with colleagues from the Utah Department of Health to plan, develop, and execute a tabletop exercise. The exercise was conducted on July 17 in Salt Lake City and centered around a simulated law enforcement closure of three pain clinics in the area, resulting in the loss of critical services for 2000 patients and clients. This loss of pain management support led to an overwhelming surge on other members of the healthcare community and an increase in the misuse of opioids with resultant overdoses and deaths. The exercise included representatives of state and local public health, law enforcement, corporate healthcare, and CDC. The primary objective was to evaluate a new ASTHO Opioid Rapid Response Team Guidebook constructed for use in developing a team to augment a state’s incident management structure. Preliminary reports indicate that the guidebook was a useful and effective tool for states and territories. A special thanks to ASTHO and Utah Department of Health planning partners.


    • ASTHO and NCSL Host Winnable Battles 2019 Meeting

      ASTHO and NCSL Host Winnable Battles 2019 MeetingOn July 10-12, ASTHO, CDC, and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) hosted a Winnable Battles meeting convening state policymakers and state health leadership to address key public health issues. State teams from Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and West Virginia worked together to tackle issues including HIV and infectious consequences of opioid use, hypertension, and adverse childhood experiences. During the meeting, Scott Harris (SHO-AL), Jay Butler (alumnus-AK), and Danny Staley (alumnus-NC), ASTHO’s chief of Caribbean operations, discussed their experience as state health officials working with legislators to address priority public health topics.


    • ASTHO Attends Briefing on President Trump’s Advancing American Kidney Health Initiative

      ASTHO Attends Briefing on Trump’s Advancing American Kidney Health Initiative (July 2019)On July 10, Amandeep Kaur, ASTHO’s health improvement analyst, attended a briefing on President Trump’s Advancing American Kidney Health Initiative. President Trump signed an executive order to direct HHS to focus on three main goals: preventing kidney failure, increasing treatment affordability and options, and increasing access to kidney transplants. President Trump highlighted the importance of home dialysis, as it would lower kidney disease treatment expenditure. He also presented policy options such as reimbursing organ donors and improving organ procurement regulation. Over 30 million people are living with chronic kidney disease; it is currently the ninth leading cause of death in America. The briefing included an opportunity to hear stories of kidney disease patients. HHS Secretary Alex Azar also revealed a plan to work with Congress to eliminate the 36-month limit on Medicare coverage of post-transplant medication coverage.


    • ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser Attends NACCHO 2019 Annual Conference

      ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser Attends NACCHO 2019 Annual ConferenceOn July 8, ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser attended the NACCHO 2019 Annual Conference in Orlando. At the conference, Fraser briefed the NACCHO board on current ASTHO priorities and opportunities for collaboration between ASTHO and NACCHO. ASTHO members, partners, and alumni featured prominently on the NACCHO meeting agenda including Scott Rivkees (SHO-FL), who participated in the opening plenary session, CSTLTS Director Jose Montero (alumnus-NH), who presented on CDC’s priorities, followed by U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams (alumnus-IN) and John Dreyzehner (alumnus-TN), who moderated a session on public health messaging and the de Beaumont Foundation’s PHRASES project. ASTHO Immediate Past President John Wiesman (SHO-WA) was also in attendance.


    • ASTHO Convenes TCN Strategic Planning Meeting

      ASTHO Convenes TCN Strategic Planning MeetingOn July 10-11, the executive committee of the Tobacco Control Network (TCN), an ASTHO peer network, convened in ASTHO’s Atlanta regional office with ASTHO staff and the CDC Office on Smoking and Health for a two-day strategic planning and business planning meeting. The executive committee discussed the strategic direction and top priorities of the network for the next three years. The group also celebrated 2019 as the 25th anniversary of TCN and their support of state and territorial tobacco control programs. ASTHO recently published a blog post highlighting TCN’s role in tobacco control successes over the last 25 years, featuring remarks from ASTHO Chief Medical Officer Marcus Plescia and TCN Chair Luci Longoria.


    • ASTHO Hosts National Viral Hepatitis Program Planning Meeting

      ASTHO Hosts National Viral Hepatitis Program Planning Meeting (July 2019)On July 9-10, ASTHO hosted the National Viral Hepatitis Program Planning Meeting, a convening of state, local, federal, and nonprofit partners in a national dialogue on viral hepatitis program planning to move forward on the path to elimination. Alex Billioux (SHO-LA) presented on the Louisiana Hepatitis C elimination program, including their innovative drug pricing model for hepatitis C treatment. Additional presentations included topics such as improving prevention and surveillance, decreasing barriers to treatment, and engaging people affected by viral hepatitis in elimination planning.


    • ASTHO Hosts HPV Project ECHO session at CDC Foundation

      ASTHO Hosts HPV Project ECHO session at CDC Foundation (July 2019)On June 27, ASTHO held a second Project ECHO session on HPV at the CDC Foundation in Atlanta. CDC Foundation CEO and President Judy Monroe presented an engaging session on public-private partnerships. Members of the Texas Department of Health participated as the session’s case presenters. The session provided feedback and advice for Texas around choosing influencers and keeping volunteers on HPV projects engaged and excited about the work. The third Project ECHO session on HPV is scheduled for July 23 from 4-5 p.m. at ASTHO’s headquarters in Arlington, VA. The focus will be communications.


    • ASTHO Hosts GIS Workshop in Rhode Island

      ASTHO Hosts GIS Workshop in Rhode Island (June 2019)On June 18-19, ASTHO’s environmental health team hosted a two-day GIS workshop for state health agency staff in Providence, RI. The workshop provided vector-borne disease surveillance training to health agency staff working on vector management activities. Using case studies with state data, the workshop examined how to address the spread of vector-borne diseases such as Dengue fever, West Nile, and Zika viruses using spatial analysis and data visualization techniques. This was the second training delivered through a partnership between ASTHO and the National Library of Medicine’s Community Health Maps Initiative.


    • ASTHO Members Address National Opioid Leadership Summit

      ASTHO Members Address National Opioid Leadership SummitOn June 25, Karen Smith (SHO-CA) welcomed attendees to the 2019 National Opioid Leadership Summit. The summit focused on the challenges the United States continues to face with the opioid epidemic, including equity and stigma, collective impact, economic impact, and integral partnership with the criminal justice system. Monica Bharel (SHO-MA) discussed cross-sectoral solutions, including work among partners in criminal justice, public health, behavioral health, higher education, and healthcare sectors. Bharel provided a recent example of cross-sector collaboration between the Massachusetts Department of Health and all four medical schools in Massachusetts to mandate Medical Education Core Competencies for the Prevention and Management of Prescription Drug Misuse.


    • ASTHO Hosts State Legislative Liaison Meeting

      ASTHO Hosts State Legislative Liaison MeetingOn June 20-21, ASTHO’s state health policy team hosted its annual State Legislative Liaison (SLL) meeting in Atlanta. The SLL meeting provided an opportunity to share successes and challenges, discuss emerging public health policy issues, and identify legislative priorities for 2020. The meeting also included a training on public health economics led by Glen Mays, Professor and Chair, Department of Health Systems, Management and Policy at the Colorado School of Public Health. The training featured tools and strategies to determine and communicate the economic value of public health policy. In addition, federal partners from CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease and CDC’s Public Health Law Program as well as the legislative liaison from Washington state participated on an expert panel discussing communication and policy strategies to improve vaccine coverage.


    • ASTHO Hosts Leadership and Communications Summit and Board Meeting

      Attendees group photo from the ASTHO Leadership and Communications Summit and Board Meeting (June 2019)
      June 17-20, ASTHO hosted its Leadership and Communications Summit and Board Meeting in Atlanta. A few highlights from the week include:











      Welcome Reception

      Speaker at the ASTHO Leadership and Communications Summit Welcome Reception (June 2019)On June 17, ASTHO and the Emory Rollins School of Public Health hosted a welcome reception for newly appointed state and territorial health officials, as well as local health officials attending CDC’s New Health Officer Orientation. The reception provided an opportunity for state and territorial health officials and big city health officers to engage and network with CDC leaders, ASTHO executive leadership, as well as ASTHO alumni. Kathleen Toomey (SHO-GA) offered welcoming remarks.









      ASTHO 101 Dinner

      Diners listening to a speaker at the ASTHO Leadership and Communications Summit ASTHO 101 Dinner (June 2019)On June 18, ASTHO hosted a networking dinner at the Emory Conference Center. Twenty-eight state and territorial health officials were present, including: Nate Smith (SHO-AR), Ngozi Ezike (SHO-IL), Lee Norman (SHO-KS), Amy Acton (SHO-OH), Jeanna Ayers (SHO-WI), Alexander Billioux (SHO-LA), John Wiesman (SHO-WA), Greg Holzman (SHO Designee-MO), Norm Oliver (SHO-VA), LaQuandra Nesbitt (SHO-DC), Catherine Slemp (SHO-WV), Mark Levine (SHO-VT), Mylynn Tufte (SHO-ND), Lily Lou (SHO-AK), Thomas Dobbs (SHO-MS), Abinash Achrekar (SHO-NM), Esther Muna (THO-CNMI), Renee Coleman-Mitchell (SHO-CT), Linda Unpingco-DeNorcey (THO-Guam), Catherine De La Cruz-Duran (THO-PR), Jill Hunsaker Ryan (SHO-CO), Rachel Levine (SHO-PA), Beth Lovette (SHO-NC), Lisa Morris (SHO-NH), Lisa Piercey (SHO-TN), Kathleen Toomey (SHO-GA), and Randall Williams (SHO-MO). The dinner provided an opportunity to introduce newly appointed state and territorial health officials and overview ASTHO’s engagement with members.





      ASTHO Leadership Institute Strategic Communications Workshop for Health Officials

      Presenter lecturing at the ASTHO Leadership and Communications Summit Workshop for Health Officials (June 2019)On June 19, ASTHO and Washington Media Group hosted a media and communications training workshop to help equip both new and seasoned state and territorial health officials with the tools and skills necessary to effectively communicate public health priorities and issues. The workshop focused on how to tell powerful and meaningful stories, strategies to engage the media, as well as how to effectively communicate in challenging political environments and during times of crisis. In addition to ASTHO and Washington Media Group, Katherine Lyon Daniel, CDC’s associate director for communications, and Lynn Sokler, CDC’s senior communications advisor, joined the media training to share strategies and CDC resources for effective crisis communications.


    • ASTHO’s Environmental Health Team Hosts Meetings in Rhode Island

      ASTHO's Environmental Health Team Hosts Meetings in Rhode Island (June 2019)On June 18-20, ASTHO’s environmental health team hosted its annual State Environmental Health Directors (SEHD) meeting and a GIS workshop for state health agency staff in Providence, RI. The SEHD meeting provided colleagues with an opportunity to set priorities, share best practices, and identify opportunities and strategies for successful interagency collaboration. The meeting also included a training on Advancing Environmental Health Priorities Through Health in All Policies facilitated by the Kansas Health Institute. The training featured presentations on state environmental health priorities such as food and water safety, as well as PFAS biomonitoring investigations. Federal partners from CDC, EPA, and FDA also participated. Meanwhile, the GIS workshop provided vector-borne disease surveillance training to health agency staff. The workshop, led by Kurt Menke from the National Library of Medicine’s Community Health Maps Initiative, was the second training delivered through a partnership between ASTHO and the initiative.


    • ASTHO Supports Braiding and Layering Workshop in North Dakota

      ASTHO Supports Braiding and Layering Workshop in North DakotaOn June 11-12 ASTHO facilitated a Boundary Spanning Leadership workshop with the North Dakota Department of Health and their leadership team. During the meeting, Mylynn Tufte (SHO-ND) pointed out alignment between work the department is undertaking through its braiding and layering project and the state’s Mainstreet Initiative. CSTLTS leadership also participated. The workshop empowered the team with the tools and knowledge to effectively identify and span existing boundaries in order to support and fund infrastructure, activities, and services aimed at addressing the social determinants of health.


    • ASTHO Hosts Business Improvement Meeting in USVI

      ASTHO Hosts Business Improvement Meeting in USVILast week, ASTHO’s performance improvement team hosted a “Business Process Improvement Kick-Off” meeting with Danny Staley (alumnus-NC), ASTHO’s chief of Caribbean operations, as well as leadership from the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health. ASTHO led a cross-agency meeting with directors and commissioners from USVI’s Office of Management and Budget, the department of finance, department of property and procurement, and as well the department of health. Leadership from CDC and CSTLTS were also present. Broad agreement on direction and scope was achieved within the department of health and related agencies, with reforms directly aligning with the new government’s vision and priorities around reforming procurement and recruitment.


    • ASTHO Hosts Climate and Health Summit

      ASTHO Hosts Climate and Health Summit in HawaiiThis week, ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser, as well as Jim Blumenstock, ASTHO’s chief of health security and members of the environmental health team hosted ASTHO’s Climate and Health Summit in Honolulu, HI. The meeting convened territorial health leaders and staff to discuss agency priorities related to the impacts of climate on health. Also in attendance were partners from PIHOA and the East-West Center, as well as leadership from CDC’s National Center of Environmental Health and the Hawaii State Department of Health. A two-day vector borne disease GIS surveillance workshop directly followed the meeting led by an instructor from the National Library of Medicine’s Community Health Maps initiative.


    • ASTHO, CDC Host Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Learning Collaborative

      ASTHO, CDC Host Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Learning Collaborative in GuamOn June 3-4, ASTHO and CDC hosted the ASTHO/CDC Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Learning Collaborative in Guam. The meeting provided an opportunity for project teams from CNMI, Guam, and Palau to refine action plans and strategies to implement rapid hypertension management and control initiatives with support from ASTHO and CDC. Esther Muña (THO-CNMI), Linda DeNorcey (THO-Guam), and Emais Roberts (THO-Palau) discussed leadership and systems change on a panel moderated by ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser.


    • ASTHO Hosts Leadership Summit on Adverse Childhood Experiences

      ASTHO Hosts Leadership Summit on Adverse Childhood ExperiencesOn May 30, ASTHO hosted a leadership summit on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) at its headquarters in Arlington, VA. During the summit, participants discussed strategies for using ACEs data to inform programmatic and policy work at the state level. Chris Jones, CDC’s senior advisor and director of strategy and innovation, spoke about the intersection between ACEs, substance misuse, suicide, and the importance of primary prevention. Ana Novais, deputy director for the Rhode Island Department of Health, described the state’s Health Equity Zones and explained how this initiative promotes social and community connectedness to mitigate stress and trauma among youth. Attendees representing health departments in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Washington, Wisconsin, and Virginia also presented on how their states are using ACEs data collected from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to address substance use disorders and other behavioral health conditions.


    • Esther Muña and other Territorial Health Leaders Testify Before Congress

      Esther Muña and other Territorial Health Leaders Testify Before CongressOn May 23, Esther Muña (THO-CNMI) and territorial health leaders from Guam, Puerto Rico, America Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands testified before the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources. Their testimonies focused on the need for increased federal Medicaid contributions in the territories, as well as the health consequences that would result without these contributions. “Low federal contributions, coupled with exhaustion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act funds this year, creates a fiscal cliff for our Medicaid program,” Muña said. “This fiscal cliff threatens to unweave our substantial improvements over the past ten years in the delivery of healthcare, further erodes our economy, and threatens the health and well-being of our people.”


    • ASTHO Supports Grants Management Business Improvement Work in Puerto Rico

      ASTHO Supports Grants Management Business Improvement Work in Puerto RicoOn May 15-16, ASTHO’s Performance Improvement team facilitated the first of three in-person business process improvement workshops at the Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDOH). Over 20 PRDOH staff and external government stakeholders participated in the development of three key PRDOH business processes maps: property, procurement, and travel. These maps will be essential to the agency in developing standard operating procedures for key financial processes and implementation throughout the agency. This work is a collaborative effort involving ASTHO, CDC, and PRDOH.


    • Idaho and ASTHO Host Boundary Spanning Workshop

      Idaho and ASTHO Host Boundary Spanning WorkshopOn May 21, Elke Shaw-Tulloch (SHO-ID) and the Idaho Department of Health hosted an ASTHO Boundary Spanning Leadership workshop, with leaders from each bureau within the department participating. The purpose of the workshop was to look at how the bureaus could work together to adopt the 2019 ASTHO President’s Challenge, “Building Healthy and Resilient Communities,” by expanding their vision for “Get Healthy Idaho.” This workshop was conducted with support from CDC for a pilot project looking at braiding and layering funding sources to address social determinants of health and foundational public health capabilities.







    • ASTHO Strategizes Culture of Quality Efforts in Guam

      ASTHO Strategizes Culture of Quality Efforts in GuamOn May 21-24, Guam's senior leadership and quality improvement council worked with ASTHO staff to strategize efforts to improve Guam's culture of quality. This included facilitating a self-assessment activity to identify gaps and opportunities to strengthen Guam's quality improvement plan and implement a performance management system. The discussions have been valuable in identifying opportunities and challenges. The team is looking forward to process mapping current and future performance management system components with QI council members and other programmatic staff.


    • ASTHO Atlanta Staff Attends Grand Rounds on Legionella

      ASTHO Atlanta Staff Attends Grand Rounds on LegionellaOn May 21, staff from ASTHO’s regional office in Atlanta attended CDC’s Grand Rounds, “Turning the Tide: The Role of Water Management to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease.” Jay Butler (alumnus-AK), ASTHO past-president and current deputy director for infectious diseases at CDC, introduced the panel, which included perspectives from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Panelists discussed the burden Legionnaires’ disease places on the public health and healthcare systems, environmental health’s role in preventing Legionnaires’ disease, as well as the importance of building public health capacity around this important issue.


    • ASTHO Convenes Senior Deputies Annual Meeting

      ASTHO Convenes Senior Deputies Annual MeetingOn May 5-8, ASTHO convened the 26th Senior Deputies Annual Meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, providing an opportunity to strengthen relationships between state, territorial, and federal partners, as well as share programmatic priorities and best practices in public health. Senior deputies from over 25 state and territorial health agencies, CDC, and the de Beaumont Foundation, came together to discuss the public health challenges impacting states and territories, emerging trends, as well as strategies and tools to advance the public’s health and well-being. On May 5, new senior deputies attended several orientation sessions providing resources to equip them for their new positions. Rafael Rodríguez Mercado (THO-PR) and Catherine de la Cruz Duran (THO Designee-PR) provided welcoming remarks. Participants then heard from peers and partners about experiences engaging the business community, strategies on implementing national data standards to advance information exchange, as well as building and strengthening the public health workforce. CDC deputies led round table discussions on key programs, with participants asking questions and sharing successes and challenges. Additionally, colleagues from Puerto Rico shared firsthand perspectives on response and recovery efforts following hurricanes Irma and Maria. Before finishing the annual meeting, senior deputies along with chief financial officers attended a workshop on positive change leadership and appreciative inquiry.


    • ASTHO Hosts Montana Department of Health Site Visit

      ASTHO Hosts Montana Department of Health Site VisitOn May 9, ASTHO’s Center for Population Health Strategies hosted a site visit with the Montana Department of Health in Helena as part of the clinical to community connections team’s Telehealth Learning Community. The meeting included stakeholders working together toward advancing behavioral telehealth, including Sheila Hogan (SHO-MO). The meeting featured two panels on telehealth programs and reimbursement, a presentation from Mei Kwong, executive director of the Center for Connected Health Policy, as well as a brainstorming session.


    • ASTHO and CDC Host PfS-DDPI Awardee Meeting

      ASTHO and CDC Host PfS-DDPI Awardee MeetingOn May 13-15, ASTHO and CDC hosted the 2019 Prevention for States (PfS)/Data-Driven Prevention Initiative (DDPI) Awardee Meeting in Atlanta. The week began with a pre-meeting workshop for state health officials. ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser introduced the meeting, along with Grant Baldwin CDC’s director of the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, and Sarah Bacon, CDC’s lead behavioral scientist on the Opioid Overdose Prevention Programs Team. State health officials in attendance included Jeanne Ayers (SHO-WI), Scott Harris (SHO-AL), Gregory Holzman (SHO Designee-MO), Kathy Kunkel (SHO-NM), Mark Levine (SHO-VT), LaQuandra Nesbitt (SHO-DC), and Lisa Piercy (SHO-TN). During the pre-meeting, conversation centered around assessing the purpose and utility of state opioid data dashboards, understanding the potential need for and benefits of standardization of dashboard data elements, building consensus around which dashboard elements could feasibly be standardized, as well as discussion on the future of such dashboards and how they might be leveraged to respond to other substance use crises. The broader meeting comprised breakout sessions showcasing the efforts of PfS/DDPI awardees and partners as they move beyond implementation to achieve impact. Sessions highlighted state accomplishments, innovative strategies, and key collaborations in the fight against the opioid overdose epidemic.


    • ASTHO Supports NAVCO’s 2019 Annual Meeting

      ASTHO Supports NAVCO 2019 Annual MeetingOn May 15-16, ASTHO’s environmental health team, with support from CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, helped facilitate the 2019 National Association of Vector-Borne Disease Control Officials (NAVCO) Annual Meeting in Fort Collins, CO. The meeting featured a variety of speakers discussing various vector-borne disease topics, including emerging and re-emerging arboviral diseases, technical aspects of tick surveillance, and state perspectives on insecticide resistance testing. The NAVCO board also convened for a meeting to discuss future priorities and activities for the association. Additionally, ASTHO’s state health policy and environmental health teams discussed their ongoing vector-borne disease work.


    • ASTHO Hosts Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Peer Network

      ASTHO Hosts CFO Peer NetworkOn May 8-9, ASTHO convened a CFO Annual Meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to discuss the financial management of public health emergencies. Participants heard about experiences responding to and recovering from natural disasters and public health threats, as well as innovative funding strategies. Esther Muna (THO-CNMI) and Catherine de la Cruz-Duran (THO-PR), as well as Tatia Monell-Hewitt, CFO for the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health, and Derek Sasamoto, CFO for the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Health Corporation, discussed post-typhoon and post-hurricane financial recovery and sustainability for CNMI and Puerto Rico, with an emphasis on what health departments can learn from these experiences.

      In addition, CFOs shared how administrative processes can delay receiving and spending critical emergency public health dollars, as well as how they successfully navigated these challenges. Anna Novais, senior deputy of the Rhode Island Department of Health, and Amy Ferris, Chief Financial Officer of the Washington State Department of Health, also shared current efforts to fund foundational services and prevention activities in the absence of dedicated funding. CDC deputy directors joined CFOs to discuss opportunities to further collaborate on communication, grants, and financial competency. The CFO meeting was preceded by a joint training with participants from the ASTHO Senior Deputy Annual Meeting, which focused on strengthening management through positive change leadership.


    • ASTHO Launches HPV Project ECHO

      ASTHO Launches HPV Project ECHOOn May 1, ASTHO launched a new learning community based on Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), an education and collaboration model. This initiative aims to establish multidisciplinary state teams and create knowledge networks for sharing evidence-based strategies and promising practices related to HPV, with the goal of ultimately improving HPV vaccination rates across the nation.


    • Second ASTHO Week

      On Apr. 29-May 2, ASTHO hosted its second ASTHO Week. As a teleworking organization, ASTHO Week brings together all staff in ASTHO’s headquarters in Arlington, VA, for a week of collaboration, discussion, teambuilding, and organizational strategy. A few highlights from the week include:


      ASTHO Volunteers at the DC Central Kitchen

      ASTHO Volunteers at the DC Central Kitchen (April 2019)On Apr. 29, the DC Central Kitchen welcomed ASTHO volunteers to help cut, chop, peel, and prep food in the community kitchen. ASTHO enjoyed learning about the organization and its commitment to building a more equitable, healthy food system.






      Opioid Overdoes Reversal and Prevention Training

      Opioid Overdoes Reversal and Prevention Training (April 2019)On April 30, the Chris Atwood Foundation hosted a training with ASTHO staff about how to recognize an opioid overdose and administer lifesaving naloxone, sparking an important conversation about stigma, medication-assisted treatment, and recovery.






      Addressing Racial Disparities in Maternal Health

      Addressing Racial Disparities in Maternal HealthOn April 30, Shereef Elnahal (SHO-NJ) and Saanie Sulley, data analyst for the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health, discussed health equity and solutions to address racial disparities in infant and maternal mortality.


      Wings and Public Health Things!

      Wings and Public Health Things_April 2019On May 1, Jerry Rhodes, ASTHO’s director of crisis response preparedness, and Alex Seifert, ASTHO’s senior analyst of preparedness and epidemiology, hosted a COOP Presentation to discuss ASTHO’s emergency response plans. Following the presentation, staff gathered to sample wings and eat ice cream.






    • ASTHO Attends Rx Summit

      ASTHO Attends Rx SummitOn April 22-25, ASTHO’s social and behavioral team attended the Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, a national collaboration of professionals from local, state, and federal agencies, treatment providers, and other sectors impacted by prescription drug abuse and heroin use. President Trump headlined the event, delivering the keynote address, in which he discussed the Administration’s plans to address the ongoing national opioid epidemic. It is the event for decision makers and allied professionals working to address this public health emergency. John Dreyzehner (alumnus-TN) also presented at the summit, moderating a panel focused on improving outcomes for pregnant women with opioid use disorder, and their infants.


    • ASTHO/NACDD Host Breast Cancer Disparities Meeting in West Virginia

      ASTHO/NACDD Host Breast Cancer Disparities Meeting in West VirginiaOn April 23, Josh Berry, ASTHO’s senior analyst of chronic disease prevention, visited Charleston, West Virginia, with members of the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program and other community and clinical stakeholders as part of the breast cancer disparities in-person/virtual meeting organized with NACDD. Facilitators from ASTHO and NACDD joined health agency and external stakeholder teams in Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Participants engaged in learning and information sharing as a large group, as well as action plan brainstorming to support state health agencies in addressing breast cancer disparities with data-driven action steps.


    • ASTHO Presents at Aging in America Conference

      ASTHO Presents at Aging in America ConferenceOn April 17, Kelsey Donnellan, ASTHO’s senior analyst of health improvement, presented at the Aging in America Conference in New Orleans. The session, entitled “Starting Conversations About Dementia in Indian Country: A Public Health Road Map,” included a panel discussion with experts from the Alzheimer’s Association, CDC, the International Association for Indigenous Aging, and Splaine Consulting. ASTHO’s presentation focused on the recently released resource, “Communicating in Indian Country: Healthy Heart, Healthy Brain.” Donnellan reviewed the role of ASTHO in state public health, outlined the participatory process used to develop the communication materials, and discussed how they can be used. State and tribal partnerships are important to supporting American Indian and Alaska Native people living with, or at risk for, dementia, as many live off reservation and in urban cities. The full resources can be found on ASTHO’s website.


    • ASTHO and Partners Leads Business Improvement Work in Marshall Islands

      ASTHO and Partners Leads Business Improvement Work in Marshall IslandsLast week, ASTHO’s Performance Improvement, Research and Evaluation team led business process improvement work in the Marshall Islands. A memorandum of understanding and three accompanying standard operating procedures (SOPs) in grants management, procurement, and recruitment were developed and reviewed with the participation of the five cabinet-level agencies charged with implementation. Pictured during the signing of the SOPs are (from left to right): the Public Service Commission, the Attorney General’s Office, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance, and the Office of the Chief Secretary. The work is a collaborative effort involving ASTHO, CDC, PIHOA, the Republic of the Marshall Islands’ Ministry of Health. Additionally, ASTHO facilitated cross-agency conversations to helped broker agreements to work on the following:
         - Reducing the number of signatures required for relatively small-cost requisitions.
         - Establishing standing orders for pharmaceuticals and lab supplied that will be (re)completed on a yearly or bi-yearly basis.
         - Expedited procurement procedures for outbreaks and other public health events that do not yet rise to the level of national emergencies covered by the National Disaster Act.


    • ASTHO CEO Presents Strategic Plan to CDC, CSTLTS

      ASTHO CEO Presents Strategic Plan to CDC CSTLTSOn April 15, ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser presented to CDC, CSTLTS, and technical monitors in Atlanta. CSTLTS Director Jose Montero (alumnus-NH) introduced and then turned discussion over to Fraser. During the presentation, Fraser laid out ASTHO’s strategic plan to improve capacity at state and territorial public health departments. A focus of the presentations was ASTHO’s capacity building and technical assistance framework, which aims to further support state and territorial public health through capacity building, technical assistance, and thought leadership. Throughout the presentation, Fraser emphasized ASTHO’s focus on strategic foresight when assessing state priorities, as well the importance of being precise and predictive. ASTHO thanks CDC, CSTLTS, and CSTLTS Director Jose Montero for hosting the presentation.


    • ASTHO's Center for Population Health Strategies Speaks at Nebraska's Minority Health Conference

      ASTHO Center for Population Health Strategies Speaks at Nebraska Minority Health ConferenceOn April 17, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Office of Health Disparities and Health Equity hosted Deborah Fournier, ASTHO’s senior director of clinical to community connections, and Priyanka Surio, ASTHO’s director of data analytics and public health informatics. Fournier and Surio led several sessions during the department’s Minority Health Conference, with a focus on uniting practice and partnerships to achieve health equity. Fournier led the morning keynote session on how cross-sector initiatives, such as the Accountable Health Communities model, can improve health outcomes for low-income and minority communities to advance health equity. Surio led a breakout session on building an informatics-savvy public health infrastructure to explore the skills, technologies, and strategies necessary for capturing and displaying social determinants of health data. Fournier also led a breakout session highlighting ASTHO’s 2019 President’s Challenge, “Building Healthy and Resilient Communities.”


    • Primary Care Office Directors Training Academy Kicks Off

      Primary Care Office Directors Training Academy Kicks Off April 2019On April 16-17, ASTHO and the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health hosted a meeting with Primary Care Office (PCO) directors and HRSA at ASTHO’s headquarters in Arlington, VA. The meeting familiarized participants with major components of PCO work and also served to build working relationships between PCO directors who are able to consult and strategize with one another. In addition, the meeting provided new PCO directors with an opportunity to seek mentorship and expert advice from colleagues.


    • ASTHO Hosts Site Visit at Florida Department of Health

      ASTHO Hosts Site Visit at Florida Department of HealthOn April 9, ASTHO’s Center for Population Health Strategies hosted a site visit with the Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee, FL. The site visit was part of the Clinical to Community Connections team’s Telehealth Learning Community. The half-day meeting included stakeholders working toward advancing behavioral health services in school settings. The meeting featured a presentation from Mei Kwong, executive director of the Center for Connected Health Policy. Lloyd Sirmons, director of the Southeastern Telehealth Resource Center, provided a telehealth demonstration.


    • ASTHO Attends CIFOR Meeting

      ASTHO Attends CIFOR MeetingLast week, Abe Kulungara, ASTHO’s senior director of environmental health, attended the Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response (CIFOR) meeting in Dallas. CIFOR is a multidisciplinary collaboration of national associations and federal agencies working together since 2006 to improve methods to detect, investigate, control and prevent foodborne disease outbreaks. CIFOR members met in Dallas to finalize the third edition of CIFOR’s Guidelines for Foodborne Disease Outbreak Response, a comprehensive resource for federal, state, and local agencies involved in investigating foodborne outbreaks.


    • ASTHO Co-Sponsors Congressional Briefing on Protecting Moms and Babies

      ASTHO Co-Sponsors Congressional Briefing on Protecting Moms and BabiesOn April 4, ASTHO co-sponsored and supported a congressional briefing entitled “Emerging Threats to Mothers and Babies: Protecting Vulnerable Populations During and After Public Health Emergencies.” Over 100 congressional staffers and stakeholders attended the session, which covered issues impacting mothers and babies such as Zika and how lessons learned can help inform tracking, detection, and care in future public health emergencies. Speakers included Margaret (Peggy) Honein, director of CDC’s Division of Congenital and Developmental Disorders at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Honein emphasized preparedness: “We don’t want to repeat history,” she said. “We want to stop the next Zika.” Lacy M. Fehrenbach, assistant secretary of prevention and community health at the Washington State Department of Health, described how Washington state uses data from home visiting to plan and support vulnerable communities during emergencies. “We don’t know what the next Zika is,” Fehrenbach said, “but we do have the ability to find it more quickly.”


    • ASTHO Hosts Public Health Systems Improvement Training

      ASTHO Hosts Public Health Systems Improvement TrainingDuring the week of April 1, ASTHO’s performance improvement team convened a public health systems improvement workshop with eight states and two territories: Alaska, Arizona, CNMI, Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and Wisconsin. This was part of the state and territorial Public Health Systems Improvement CBTA Project. The workshop focused on change management, engaging leadership, and leading and facilitating teams in support of planning, performance management, and accreditation. ASTHO staff and consultants helped participants build connections, discover existing resources, brainstorm, and problem solve. Over the next four months, these states and territories will implement public health improvement in their health agencies through systems thinking and pragmatic planning.


    • ASTHO Attends Public Health Preparedness Summit

      ASTHO Attends Public Health Preparedness SummitLast week, ASTHO’s preparedness and infectious disease teams attended the Public Health Preparedness Summit in St. Louis. ASTHO led or co-led several activities, including the PHEP-HPP awardee meeting, a town hall on repatriating U.S. citizens following an international disaster, as well as meetings of the directors of public health preparedness, medical countermeasures coordinators, territorial representatives, and directly funded cities. In addition, Randall Williams (SHO-MO), Nate Smith (SHO-AR), Cathy Slemp (SHO-WV), and Marissa Levine (alumna-VA) participated in a tabletop exercise focused on difficult policy issues and solutions arising from an evolving pandemic. Jim Blumenstock, ASTHO’s chief of health security, led the National Academies workshop on exploring medical and public health preparedness for a nuclear incident. Randall Williams delivered a welcome speech during the opening session of the summit, which brought together more than 1,900 public health preparedness professionals.


    • ASTHO President Speaks at NNPHI’s Open Forum in Philadelphia

      ASTHO President Speaks at NNPHI Open Forum in PhiladelphiaOn March 28, ASTHO President Nicole Alexander-Scott (SHO-RI) spoke during a plenary session at the Open Forum for Quality Improvement and Innovation in Public Health conference, hosted by the National Network of Public Health Institutes. The dialogue focused on framing community resilience as a public health strategy. Dr. Alexander-Scott described Rhode Island’s first set of statewide health equity indicators, which offer a look at civic engagement, social vulnerability, and equitable housing policies. She was joined by several other panelists to discuss community cohesion, engagement, and health equity, including NACCHO President Kevin Sumner, John Auerbach (alumnus-MA), president and CEO of Trust for America’s Health, and Alonzo Plough, vice president for research-evaluation-learning and chief science officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


    • ASTHO Environmental Health’s Busy Week

      The past week has been busy for ASTHO’s environmental health team. See below for highlights from the week!


      ASTHO Meets New ECOS Executive Director

      ASTHO Meets New ECOS Executive DirectorOn March 19, ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser, along with Jim Blumenstock, ASTHO’s chief of health security, and Abe Kulungara, ASTHO’s senior director of environmental health, met with Donald Welsh, the new executive director of the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) and Carolyn Hanson, the deputy director at ECOS. EPA, ECOS, and ASTHO have a Memorandum of Agreement on public health and environmental collaboration that will advance the parties’ mutually shared mission of protecting the public’s health from environmental threats and hazards. At the meeting in Washington D.C., ASTHO and ECOS underlined the need to collaborate in enhancing communication and developing resources around contaminants like Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).


      ASTHO Attends State Presentations on PFAS Biomonitoring Projects

      ASTHO Attends State Presentations on PFAS Biomonitoring ProjectsAlso on March 19, Kathy Dolan, ASTHO’s director of environmental health, and Nicholas Porter, ASTHO’s senior analyst for environmental health, along with leadership from CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), attended presentations from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) on their recently completed PFAS biomonitoring projects. The presentations took place at CDC’s Chamblee campus in Atlanta. The projects implemented and evaluated CDC/ATSDR’s PFAS Exposure Assessment Technical Tools (PEATT), a step-by-step protocol for assessing a community’s exposures to PFAS in affected communities in both states.



      ASTHO Discusses Food Safety Policy on Capitol Hill

      ASTHO Discusses Food Safety Policy on Capitol HillOn March 14-15, ASTHO brought several state health officials and other members of the environmental health and infectious disease policy committees to Washington, D.C. to discuss policy implications around new and emerging methods to detect foodborne disease, capacity building for foodborne outbreak response, and the identification of opportunities and strategies for successful interagency collaboration. The meeting featured presentations on whole genome sequencing and culture independent diagnostic testing, One Health, and cannabidiol (CBD) infused foods. Officials from CDC, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, FDA, and USDA provided updates on food safety priorities and initiatives.


      ASTHO Speaks to PHAB Board

      ASTHO Speaks to PHAB BoardOn March 20, Danny Staley, ASTHO’s chief of Caribbean operations, and Joya Coffman, ASTHO’s senior director of performance improvement, presented an update on crisis funding and ongoing work in the Caribbean at the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) meeting. Staley began the presentation with an overview of the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria, highlighting the response ASTHO is leading as part of its crisis work with CDC. This work includes supplemental staffing, equipment purchases, and contracting for impactful public health system improvements. One important area ASTHO highlighted to the board is business processes improvement technical assistance and training that ASTHO is providing to expand public health capacity to implement streamlined and standardized processes in financial management, procurement, and human resources. PHAB board members and federal partners underscored the critical role of public health departments and national partner organizations in crisis recovery efforts from the lens of both immediate workforce and resource deployment, as well as executive leader mentorship and support.


    • John Wiesman Co-Chairs PACHA Meeting

      John Wiesman Co-Chairs PACHA MeetingOn March 14-15, John Wiesman (SHO-WA) co-chaired the 63rd Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) Meeting in Washington, D.C. In his opening remarks, Wiesman called for bold action to defeat HIV/AIDS in America. He highlighted the importance of working across sectors to deploy effective prevention and treatment interventions, provide timely access to affordable healthcare services, and tackle stigma. He emphasized that discrimination of all kinds and social determinants of heath must be addressed to end the epidemic. “As one state who has had an initiative to end AIDS, we look forward to working with each other and learning more from each other to pull together best practices,” said Wiesman. HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir, CDC Director Robert Redfield, and leadership from HRSA, NIH, SAMHSA, and IHS discussed the initiative to end HIV and PACHA’s critical role in influencing and impacting this historic effort.


    • ASTHO’s 2019 Washington Week

      From March 11-15, ASTHO hosted its annual Washington Week. See below for highlights from the week!


      Washington Week: Inaugural ASTHO Policy Academy

      Inaugural ASTHO Policy AcademyTo kick off the week, ASTHO hosted an in-person training for its inaugural Policy Academy on March 11-12. The ASTHO Policy Academy, designed and conducted with the assistance of CDC’s Office of the Associate Director for Policy, helps state health agency leaders develop and strengthen their policy skills. Teams from three state health agencies attended, representing the Arkansas Department of Health, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. Each team was made up of health officials, senior deputies, legislative liaisons, legal counsel, and program staff. During the Policy Academy, they received training on key steps in the policy development process, including policy analysis, policy communication, engaging stakeholders, and policy development.


      Washington Week: Insular Areas Subcommittee Dinner Meeting

      Insular Areas Subcommittee Dinner Meeting 2019Esther Muña (THO-CNMI) chaired the Insular Affairs Subcommittee meeting on March 11. The subcommittee provides a forum for ASTHO’s members to exchange information on policy challenges and solutions within the Pacific and Atlantic jurisdictions. The subcommittee identified policy priorities for consideration by the full government relations committee and ASTHO board. It is believed that this is the first time that jurisdictions in the Pacific and the Atlantic have collaborated on a shared public health policy agenda along with states with relatively large numbers of island populations.



      Washington Week: Leading in Government Workshop

      ASTHO Leading in Government WorkshopOn March 12, ASTHO facilitated a workshop in partnership with the Georgetown Law Center. Attendees were joined by John Monahan, senior advisor for global health at Georgetown University, and Howard Koh (alumnus-MA), professor of public health leadership at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard Kennedy School. The workshop covered a wide range of topics and offered practical tips on meeting with members of Congress, engaging governors’ offices, leveraging state Medicaid dollars for public health programs, and overcoming regulatory obstacles in state government.


      Washington Week: OMB Dinner with ASTHO, NACCHO, NALBOH, and Big Cities Health Coalition

      OMB Dinner with ASTHO, NACCHO, NALBOH, and Big Cities Health CoalitionOn Tuesday evening, March 12, ASTHO, NACCHO, NALBOH, and the Big Cities Health Coalition attended a combined dinner at the Washington Marriott Georgetown to illuminate the important public health work done across states, territories, and localities. The group heard a presentation from Marc Garufi, chief of the public health branch at the Office of Management and Budget, about the current budget environment.



      Washington Week: ASTHO and NACCHO Host “Meet and Greet” at Russell Senate Office Building

      ASTHO and NACCHO Host Meet and Greet at Russell Senate Office BuildingThe following morning, on March 13, ASTHO and NACCHO sponsored a “meet and greet” breakfast reception before their annual Hill Day. State and local health officials assembled in the historic Kennedy Caucus Room to network and prepare for the day ahead. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) shared opening remarks reinforcing the value of public health work and caught up with Rhode Island’s health official, ASTHO President Nicole Alexander-Scott.


      Washington Week: 2019 Hill Day: ASTHO and NACCHO Members Meet with Members of Congress

      2019 Hill Day: ASTHO and NACCHO Members Meet with Members of CongressOn March 13, ASTHO and NACCHO members took to Capitol Hill to share a unified message about the critical need to sustain investments in public health agencies that protect and promote the health of all Americans and prevent sequester cuts in the FY20 budget. The day consisted of meetings with members of Congress. Health officials discussed public health issues and priorities impacting their constituents, encouraging Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to support funding levels for CDC and other important public health programs. Check out #PublicHealthOnTheHill on Twitter for more coverage and photos from the day!

       

      Washington Week: ASTHO Members Meet with HHS Leadership

      Health officials meet with several HHS leaders during Washington WeekFollowing Wednesday’s meetings on Capitol Hill, health officials met with several HHS leaders, including Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, and Nafisa Jiwani, Deputy Senior Advisor for Value-Based Care at HHS. Giroir invited ideas and feedback on ways the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health can support work at the state level around several key priorities, including efforts to address the opioid epidemic, eliminate HIV, and counter anti-vaccine rhetoric. Kadlec spoke about the importance of maintaining a robust public health preparedness infrastructure to respond to a variety of incidents and threats, including measles, Ebola, and natural disasters. Jiwani outlined several of the HHS Secretary’s initiatives to transform healthcare into a more value-oriented system, citing opportunities related to health IT, interoperability, and data sharing.


      Washington Week: ASTHO Meets with SAMHSA and HRSA Leadership

      ASTHO Meets with SAMHSA and HRSA LeadershipOn March 15, ASTHO members convened with SAMHSA and HRSA leadership for a discussion on substance abuse trends, budgeting, and collaboration between state and federal agencies. Elinore McCance-Katz, SAMHSA’s assistant secretary for mental health and substance use, started the morning with a presentation on the latest national substance use and mental health data. HRSA Administrator George Sigounas followed with a discussion on how state and federal agencies can work together to stretch their budgets and maximize programmatic impact. Sigounas held a Q&A session, during which ASTHO members presented the needs of their states and inquired about the role federal agencies can play in solutions.


      Washington Week: ASTHO Board of Directors Meets

      ASTHO Board of Directors Meets March 2019On March 14, the ASTHO Board of Directors convened in Washington, D.C. The board heard a presentation from Steven Reynolds, MPH, deputy director of CSTLTS, and discussed several important operational items.






    • ASTHO Convenes PRISM Learning Community Policy Academy

      ASTHO Convenes PRISM Learning Community Policy AcademyOn March 9, ASTHO’s maternal and child health team, in partnership with the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP), convened the Promoting Innovation in State and Territorial MCH Policymaking (PRISM) Learning Community Policy Academy. Six states and territories participated in cohort 1 of PRISM, including Arkansas, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Iowa, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Washington state. Gerd Clabaugh (SHO-IA) attended and provided invaluable guidance to the Iowa state team. Presenters included HRSA, the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, and the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District. The National Conference of State Legislatures presented on their new MCH database tool which tracks enacted state laws on fourteen different topics. Through facilitated sessions, teams identified priorities and drafted action plans they will use during the PRISM Learning Community to support public health policy implementation related to MCH mental health and substance misuse and addiction.


    • House Subcommittee on Environment Hearing: Examining PFAS Chemicals and their Risks

      House Subcommittee on Environment Hearing: Examining PFAS Chemicals and their RisksOn March 6, the House Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing on PFAS chemicals and their risks to human health. The hearing featured testimony from Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, Rep. Daniel Kildee, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water, Dave Ross, as well as the Department of Defense (DoD) Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environment, Maureen Sullivan. Both Rep. Fitzpatrick and Rep. Kildee focused their testimony on the urgent need for DoD, EPA, and other federal public health agencies to address PFAS contamination in drinking water and protect the public from future exposures. Rep. Kildee underscored the need to focus on contaminated site cleanup, while Rep. Fitzpatrick urged EPA to set legally enforceable Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) and designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as the Superfund Act. Ross discussed EPA’s newly released PFAS Action Plan, noting that designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA and moving forward with the MCL process as outlined under the Safe Drinking Water Act are both included in the plan. EPA will soon release interim groundwater clean-up recommendations. Sullivan outlined DoD’s actions to reduce exposures to PFOA and PFOS in drinking water at the 24 DoD installations that tested above EPA’s Lifetime Health Advisory level of 70 parts per trillion combined for PFOA and PFOS, as well as their efforts to clean up contamination at the 401 military installation sites with known or suspected releases of PFOA or PFOS into the environment. More information on the hearing, including a video archive and links to written witness testimonies, can be found here.


    • ASTHO and CDC Host Meeting on Strengthening Community-Clinical Linkages to Improve Health Outcomes

      ASTHO and CDC Host Meeting on Strengthening Community-Clinical Linkages to Improve Health OutcomesOn March 6-7, ASTHO, in partnership with CDC, hosted a convening that showcased examples of successful and innovative collaborations between healthcare and community-based partners to address health-related social needs, with a particular focus on transportation and food insecurity. Public health officials, Medicaid directors, CMS Accountable Health Communities bridge organizations, federal partners, philanthropies, and private insurance providers discussed their roles in strengthening multi-sector partnerships. Pictured below is Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of CDC, who spoke at the meeting.


    • ESOOS Partner Meeting

      ESOOS Partner MeetingOn Feb. 27-28, ASTHO, in partnership with CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, convened the Enhanced State Opioid Overdose (ESOOS) Partner Meeting in Atlanta. The meeting featured presentations on CDC’s response to the opioid epidemic, as well as an in-depth look into the ESOOS program and upcoming funding. The meeting focused on how CDC ESOOS strategies interact with and complement other organizations’ current opioid work and how information might be used synergistically to achieve goals. Attendees discussed challenges faced related to mortality and morbidity surveillance data and brainstormed solutions.


    • Arkansas’ Nate Smith Attends Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)

      Nate Smith AK Attends ACIPOn Feb. 27-28, Nate Smith (SHO-AR) attended ACIP in Atlanta as a representative on behalf of ASTHO. ACIP develops vaccine recommendations for children and adults in the United States. Recommendations include the age when the vaccine should be given, the number of doses needed, the amount of time between doses, precautions, and contraindications. Before recommending a vaccine, ACIP considers many factors, including vaccine safety and efficacy. During the session, ACIP voted on recommendations for Japanese Encephalitis and anthrax vaccines. There were also several informational sessions on influenza, human papillomavirus, pneumococcal, meningococcal, zoster, and hepatitis vaccines.


    • ASTHO CEO Discusses State and Territorial Public Health at Harvard

      ASTHO CEO Discusses State and Territorial Public Health at Harvard On Feb. 26, ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser spoke to students at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, providing an overview on state and territorial public health, then presented at an all-school lecture on “Threats and Opportunities to State and Territorial Public Health.” The presentation focused on the people, programs, policies, and priorities of ASTHO members and ASTHO’s work in Washington, D.C. Both lectures were opportunities for students to learn more about the work of state and territorial public health and consider careers in government in the future.


    • ASTHO and Partners Host 4th Texas Opioid Workshop

      ASTHO and Partners Host 4th Texas Opioid WorkshopOn Feb. 13, ASTHO, with funding from CDC’s Opioid Crisis Jurisdictional Support program and in collaboration with the Texas Department of State Health Services, hosted a regional workshop in Austin, TX, to discuss access and analysis around state and local opioid-related data. Thirty-six participants attended from state, local, and tribal governmental agencies, along with healthcare organizations and providers. Participants were trained on how to analyze data from a public health perspective, access and use the state’s data visualization website, and how to use the state’s syndromic surveillance reporting system.

    • ASTHO Hosts Public Health Leadership Roundtable

      Public Health Leadership Roundtable attendeesOn Feb. 14, ASTHO convened the first meeting of the Public Health Leadership Roundtable at ASTHO’s headquarters in Arlington, VA. The roundtable, which included 40 partner organizations with an interest in state and territorial public health, discussed common concerns and challenges around national and federal policy for public health agencies. The assembled organizations shared legislative agendas, with the goal of strengthening communication and coordination around state and territorial public health leadership and policy.

    • ASTHO Emphasizes the Role of Public Health at the HIMSS19 Global Conference

      ASTHO attendees at the HIMSS19 Global ConferenceOn Feb. 11-15, ASTHO attended the Health Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS) 2019 Global Conference in Orlando. State health officials in attendance included Mylynn Tufte (SHO-ND), Gerd Clabaugh (SHO-IA), and Shereef Elnahal (SHO-NJ), all of whom participated on several educational sessions, learning labs, and roundtable events. On Feb. 12, ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser delivered the keynote address during the HIMSS State and Local Policy Luncheon, describing how to build a national public health informatics and IT infrastructure through people and processes. On Feb. 13, ASTHO hosted an ignite session and lunch to learn more about burning issues, success stories, and key priorities from state health officials, informatics directors, national partners, and federal representatives. ASTHO’s presence at HIMSS represents a great leap forward in elevating the role of public health, as we continue to communicate public health’s role in connecting systems and data across multiple sectors.