237: New School Year, New COVID-19 Strategy

Dr. Manisha Juthani, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health, discusses the state’s plan to help schools deal with COVID-19 this fall and how it is different than past years; the CDC has a website for back-to-school public health...


Dr. Manisha Juthani, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health, discusses the state’s plan to help schools deal with COVID-19 this fall and how it is different than past years; the CDC has a website for back-to-school public health information; Aashna Panjwani, ASTHO’s Analyst for Social and Behavioral Health, says a recent survey of 66 jurisdictions shows how they’re working to include health equity considerations into overdose surveillance and prevention efforts; and it was a year ago tomorrow that we produced our first episode of this newscast. 

Fox 61 News Article: State announces COVID back-to-school guidelines, relaxes protocols for 2022-2023 school year

CDC Webpage: Back to School – Parent Involvement is Key

CDC Webpage: DOSE Dashboard: Nonfatal Overdose Data

CDC Webpage: SUDORS Dashboard: Fatal Overdose Data

CDC Webpage: Drug Overdose Deaths Rise, Disparities Widen Differences Grew by Race, Ethnicity, and Other Factors

ASTHO logo

Transcript

ROBERT JOHNSON:

This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Tuesday, August 9th, 2022. I'm Robert Johnson.

Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

 

MANISHA JUTHANI:

We are de-emphasizing contact tracing, quarantine, but one of the new things that we are adding is an idea of Test, Mask, and Go.

JOHNSON:

Connecticut health commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani on the state's plan to help schools deal with COVID-19 this fall.

JUTHANI:

So, the idea with Test, Mask, and Go is that if you have mild respiratory symptoms—a mild running nose, cough, something that is not progressing—that you do a COVID test. And, if negative, we are encouraging people to wear a mask but still go to school.

This is not a mandate. This is a protocol that schools can choose to adopt or not. But it's a way that schools can choose to move forward as we go into this next respiratory viral season.

JOHNSON:

Juthani says the approach to an outbreak in a school will be different this year, thanks to COVID vaccines treatments and experience managing the virus.

JUTHANI:

I think that we may have outbreaks that result in reductions in staff, in many children out from a given classroom, that may result in the need for a closure by a given school.

Having said that, I do think the days of a wide-scale closure like we had at the beginning of 2020, I do think those days are over. But individualized, case-by-case basis where a closure may need to happen, that may still happen.

JOHNSON:

Juthani says the goal always is to keep kids healthy and in class.

JUTHANI:

I think what we're really trying to do here, more than where the public is, is really look at the reality of where we are with this infectious disease while balancing all the public health considerations that we need to take into account.

JOHNSON:

The CDC has a website for back-to-school public health information. It's written for parents, but it could be helpful to public health teams as well. It includes a tip sheet that tells parents how to support their child's health and emotional wellbeing during the school year. You can visit the site using the link in the show notes.

 

An updated CDC Vital Signs report says disparities are getting worse for communities that suffer the most drug overdose deaths. From 2019 to 2020, death rates increased by 44% among African-Americans and 39% among American Indian and Alaskan native people.

ASTHO's Aashna Panjwani says a recent survey of 66 jurisdictions shows how they're working to include health equity considerations into overdose surveillance and prevention efforts.

AASHNA PANJWANI:

So, a lot of the work that they are doing really incorporates this: you know, utilizing data to focus on disproportionately impacted and marginalized populations and creating culturally competent materials; and really translating all these materials into the different languages to make sure everyone is able to have equal access to these different materials; and really looking at the social determinants of health and engaging with these diverse partners.

JOHNSON:

Panjwani says ASTHO and the CDC also wanted to know how they could help.

PANJWANI:

We learned that states are really looking for training and education, enhancing the workforce capacity, and then continuing to have better access to data that they can use that data to have very evidence-based work incorporated into their health plans.

JOHNSON:

You can read the CDC Vital Signs Report and check out two CDC overdose dashboards using the links in the show notes.

 

Finally this morning, it's hard to believe, but it was a year ago to tomorrow that we produced our very first episode of this newscast.

Over the last 12 months, a team of communicators has worked hard to bring you a daily roundup of ASTHO news along with information about new ASTHO resources created to help you do your work.

So, thank you for joining us every morning and for telling others about us—we appreciate that. And we look forward to celebrating more milestones down the road as we continue the work of keeping you informed on the latest ASTHO public health news.

 

As we like to say around here, that'll do it for today's newscast. We're back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.

Manisha Juthani MD

Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Public Health

Aashna Panjwani MPH

Analyst, Social and Behavioral Health, ASTHO