Dr. Jonathan Levy, Chair of the Department of Environmental Health with the Boston University School of Public Health, has new research that says white people in Massachusetts now are more likely to die from COVID than black or Hispanic people in the...
Dr. Jonathan Levy, Chair of the Department of Environmental Health with the Boston University School of Public Health, has new research that says white people in Massachusetts now are more likely to die from COVID than black or Hispanic people in the state; Morgan Zialcita, ASTHO Senior Analyst for Health Equity and Diversity Initiatives, discusses the agenda for ASTHO’s 2023 Health Equity Summit in Atlanta in late April; in a blog article Dr. Kimberlee Wyche Etheridge, ASTHO's Senior Vice President of Health Equality and Diversity, details a week-long trip to Honduras; and an ASTHO brief examines the need for better data about people living with disabilities.
Boston Globe News Article: COVID is still killing people every day. But its main victims have changed
ASTHO Webpage: Health Equity Summit – A Movement for Justice
ASTHO Blog Article: An American Public Health Physician in Honduras
ASTHO Brief: Better Defining Disability Will Make Data More Inclusive and Usable
This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Tuesday, March 7th, 2023. I'm Robert Johnson. Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
You know, when you're looking at racial ethnic patterns in death, or infection or anything else, these can shift quite a bit over time because race ethnicity is a social construct and not a biological construct in this context.
Dr. Jonathan Levy at Boston University School of Public Health, talking about new research that says white people in Massachusetts now are more likely to die from COVID, than black or Hispanic people in the state.
We saw that during the first Omicron wave, and in January and February, racial ethnic disparities did persist. So, we had higher deaths per capita, among Hispanic populations and black non-Hispanic populations as compared to white non-Hispanic populations. Again, consistent with what we saw in earlier years, slightly smaller magnitude, but then we saw patterns changing quite a bit from March onwards. And the rest of the year, where we actually saw higher age standardized death rates in the white non-Hispanic populations relative to other populations we looked at.
Why the change? Levy isn't certain but has a few theories.
Again, what we try to think about is what changed from March onwards? And so, one thing we know is that after the Omicron wave, a lot of public health protections were removed, so that led patterns of exposure for people to shift in different ways, certainly exposure in the workplace and other public settings. So, this may have changed, who tended to be more exposed relative to earlier in the pandemic. We also know by the end of the Omicron wave, a lot of people were infected, and a lot of people have been vaccinated, so people had both the protection of the vaccine and some of those who survived had natural immunity. And so those who survived those infections, may have then had protection against the more severe outcomes in the months that followed.
Levy says all states have access to the data they need to do this analysis in their own jurisdictions.
These types of summary statistics divided up by points in time in the pandemic, provide valuable insight. And I think could give a lot of indication of who we should be focusing on with vaccination programs or other efforts, and really how we should be thinking about the upcoming phases of the pandemic and again, who to who to best where to focus to try to provide maximum protection.
Public health leaders are making plans to attend ASTHO's 2023 Health Equity Summit in Atlanta in late April. This is ASTHO's Morgan Zialcita.
This event is designed by and for public health professionals, health equity leaders and their partners. Attendees will have conversations that inspire action to confront health inequities, root causes and move towards justice.
Zialcita says the agenda will focus on building a justice movement.
We want attendees to learn strategies to mobilize the public health workforce and stakeholders to prioritize implementing evidence-based practices and policies directed toward advancing the health and wellbeing of people who have experience historical discrimination and oppression. We also want attendees to learn about recommended equity practices that are sustainable within our public health system, by working alongside community members to envision a nation that supports optimal health for all.
Zialcita adds organizers hope to attract people with a variety of job titles and duties.
We feel that when it comes to this topic around health equity, this touches everybody, this touches every one of public health. So, we don't just want individuals who are working specifically on health equity, we really want to touch those who are still trying to learn and grow in that space.
You can get more information about the 2023 Health Equity Summit using the link in the show notes.
Also today, a member of ASTHO's leadership team offers an account of public health in Honduras after a recent trip to the Central American country. O'Keyla Cooper has more.
ASTHO's Senior Vice President of Health Equity and Diversity recently returned from a week long trip to Honduras. One of the most impoverished nations in Central America, with an estimated 60% of the population living in poverty. Health care is free. However, it is limited and health equity is not a priority. Read more about Dr. Kimberly Wyche-Etheridge's journey, and ASTHO's blog using the link found in the show notes.
Finally, this morning, a new ASTHO brief examines the need for better data about people living with disabilities. The document argues the information would help improve services to this community before, during and after public health emergencies. You can download the report using the link in the show notes.
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.
Chair, Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health