367: Leading on Long COVID, PH Authority Legislative Tracker

Dr. Marcus Plescia, ASTHO Chief Medical Officer, outlines the role of public health in addressing the challenges of long COVID; Katie Moran McCabe, Lead Law and Policy Analyst with the Center for Public Health Law Research at Temple University, says...

Dr. Marcus Plescia, ASTHO Chief Medical Officer, outlines the role of public health in addressing the challenges of long COVID; Katie Moran McCabe, Lead Law and Policy Analyst with the Center for Public Health Law Research at Temple University, says more than 1,500 bills to change public health authority have been introduced in state legislatures over the last two years; and ASTHO is hiring for several open positions.

ASTHO Blog Article: From the Chief Medical Officer: Leadership Considerations for Long COVID

Temple University Webpage: The Policy Surveillance Program

Temple University Webpage: Legislators Introduced More Than 1,500 Bills To Change The Authority Of State And Local Health Agencies And Executive Officers During 2021 And 2022 Legislative Sessions

ASTHO Webpage: Careers at ASTHO

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This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Wednesday, March 1st 2023. I'm Robert Johnson. Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.



We need to understand what proportion of the population has long COVID. We need to be able to track the trends to see if we're going in a good positive direction or where things are getting worse.



ASTHO Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marcus Plescia, turning attention to the role of public health in addressing the challenges of long COVID.



First of all, we need a good definition of what exactly is long COVID? And what are the various symptoms and manifestations that we need to be looking out for? And then we need to have everybody come together on that definition.



Plescia says there are three areas where public health can make an impact. The first is data collection and surveillance.



That's kind of how we do everything in public health, we try to make sure we have a sense of the extent of the problem. We're trying to collect data on the problem to understand as well as possible. The second piece is policy interventions. And in many of these areas, the state health agency is not going to set public health policy, but they can have influence on others who set policy and the big policies here are health insurance and disability policies. And then the third is prevention. And I'll just say if you don't get COVID, you won't get long COVID. And you know that's really the bedrock of public health is trying to prevent things from happening in the first place.



ASTHO members according to pleasure also can play a leadership role by bringing together key decision makers.



So, bringing together your Medicaid directors, bringing together the leaders of private health insurance companies in the state, bringing together some of the major workforce HR type directors who are going to set policies around disability. Bringing those kinds of people together, having that kind of convening role for public health could really make a difference in each state as to you know, being able to handle this in a, you know, timed and empathetic way.



Plescia has written a blog article about the leadership considerations when addressing long COVID. You can read it now using the link in the show notes.


The last two years have been busy for lawmakers trying to change public health authority in their states. Since 2021, more than 1500 bills have been offered to alter the way agencies respond to emergencies. ASTHO is working with the Temple University Center for Public Health Law Research and others, to track bills introduced and passed since the start of legislative sessions in 2021. Katie Moran McCabe is Temple's lead Law and Policy Analyst.



The most common type of bill that was introduced there were 1197 of these, were bills that regulate specific disease control measures, such as mask mandates, vaccination requirements, and school or business closures. And of those the most commonly regulated type of measure were vaccine measures.



Moran McCabe says almost 200 of those proposals have become law in the last two years.



Many of the laws that were enacted impede the ability of state and local health officials, as well as governors, to act quickly and with flexibility to respond to a health emergency. The second most common type of bill we saw were those that limit public health authority. And the most frequent type of limitation was a restriction on the scope of emergency orders issued by a governor or a state health official or a local health official.



Moran McCabe adds the information gathered provides critical knowledge to those who want to prepare for and maybe even prevent negative legislative proposals.




So, it's important for policymakers, advocates and the public to be aware of this legislation that limits public health authority in order to know where advocacy is needed and how communities might be impacted.



You can see the data by visiting the Temple University Project webpage. We've got the link in the show notes.

Also today, ASTHO is hiring. The organization is looking for a Director of Public Health Agency Research and a Director of Leadership Events. Get more information using the link in the show notes.


Finally, this morning, did you know that you can sign up to get this newscast delivered to your mobile device at 5am Eastern time every weekday? All you need to do is follow the show. There's a button for that on this podcast player.


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.

Marcus Plescia MD MPH

Chief Medical Officer, ASTHO

Katie Moran-McCabe JD

Lead Law and Policy Analyst, Center for Public Health Law Research, Temple University