3: Lead Pipe Funding

Funding to replace lead pipes in drinking water systems; the state of public health with ASTHO CEO Mike Fraser.

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Funding to replace lead pipes in drinking water systems; the state of public health with ASTHO CEO Mike Fraser.

White House Fact Sheet: Historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal


Insight and Inspiration series

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This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Thursday, August 12th, 2021. I'm Robert Johnson. Here's today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

Lead pipes are a common source of lead in drinking water, raising the risk of lead exposure among children across the U.S.

The Senate this week approved $55 billion in new funding to help clean up old pipes that contaminate water supplies. Carolyn McCoy is ASTHO’s senior director of federal government affairs.


I think it's a really important acknowledgment, and also a real step forward, that the infrastructure impacts how people live and their health.

So, I could go on about all the other clean air investments that are in this and battery technology and how that all relates back to people's health. But the amazing acknowledgment that lead pipes are causing lead poisoning in our children and that that should be improved and included in this infrastructure bill I think is really important, and it's a signal to keep moving upstream in our efforts to improve the health in our country.


The entire infrastructure funding package is now before the House.

A new campaign aimed at smokers hits ASTHO’s social media today—it's called I COVID QUIT. Smokers are among those more vulnerable to a COVID-19 infection. Campaign organizers, hope to remind them that there's never been a better time to quit.

Look for a link to the campaign webpage in the show notes, it includes resources for individuals and providers.

There's no doubting the impact of COVID-19 pandemic has had on all of us, including people in public health.

ASTHO’s CEO, Mike Fraser, considers those impacts in today's Morning Edition conversation.

Considering all that states and territories have endured battling COVID-19 the last 18 months, how do you feel ASTHO members are doing today?


You know, I think it's been a long 18 months for state and territorial health officials. I hear that they're tired; it's definitely been a marathon, not a sprint.

But it's a resilient group, it's a wonderful group, it's a talented group, and the energy comes from their ability to connect with each other. And when we have our twice-weekly calls and folks are sharing what's going on in their states and learning from each other, I honestly feel like this is a resilient group. It's a group that is there for the right reasons, they're working so hard, and it's a group I'm incredibly proud to be working with.


We thought we caught a break here this summer with COVID numbers declining, but now here comes the Delta variant.

What's the top item on the wish list of your members right now, as they deal with this next round of infection?


The top item right now is everybody that can be vaccinated needs to be vaccinated. That's the message you'll hear from state and territorial health officials nationwide, that we've got this tool, it's our number one prevention tool, it's a tool that works even with Delta, and we've got to get the rest of this country vaccinated. That's the wish list right now—number one, two, and three.


So, looking to the end of the year and into next year, what do you think members can expect from Washington related to the pandemic response?


We're in a really interesting time in Washington right now.

We've seen incredible investments in public health, congressional interest in public health, public interests in public health.

And I think the rest of this year is going to be supporting states in how they're going to program these new phones and how we can tap the energy and interest in the work of state and territorial public health to make sure we can sustain these investments and build a system that works for the future—and I'm talking three to five years, five to seven years, not just the next three to five months.


Is there anything that can throw off this progress that's being made?

Anything to watch out for in the coming months?


The thing that we're really concerned about, again, is what if this Delta variant has a variant.

You know, we know there's going to be a next pandemic and we've got to be attuned to what we need in public health to be prepared for that. And so, the wild card here is what happens with this variant and its subsequent variants.

And then, what happens in Congress and that's always a wild card in terms of, can we once and for all resolve this issue of a sustained congressional support, sustained investment in public health infrastructure, and stop bouncing from public health emergency to public health emergency. That's what we need.


Finally, if you're looking for some insight and inspiration, make sure to sign up for one of ASTHO’s upcoming monthly conversations to motivate and enhance your leadership during the COVID-19 response.

The first session is Wednesday, August 18th, featuring America's first African American Army Surgeon General, Lieutenant General Nadia West.

The sessions in the series are open to public health professionals and members of the public. Registration is free.

If you want to sign up for the General’s talk or need more information about anything in our report today, visit the links in the show notes.

Also, don't forget to follow us on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or listen on Alexa.

Join us again tomorrow for more ASTHO news. We'll also have a conversation about the pending Medicaid funding cliff with Esther Muña, territorial health official for the Northern Mariana Islands.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition.

Carolyn McCoy MPH

Senior Director, Government Affairs, ASTHO