57: COVID Tricks on Halloween

Dr. Brian Castrucci, President and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation, explains how public health departments can use upcoming data from the PH Wins workforce study fielded by his organization and ASTHO; Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Director of the Ohio...

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Dr. Brian Castrucci, (@BrianCCastrucci) President and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation, explains how public health departments can use upcoming data from the PH Wins workforce study fielded by his organization and ASTHO; Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Director of the Ohio Department of Health,    (@OHdeptofhealth) offers some not-so-scary Halloween tips for trick-or-treaters; and Dr. David Scrase, Secretary of the New Mexico Health and Human Services Department, (@NMDOH) offers Thanksgiving holiday travel advice during a virtual news conference.

de Beaumont Foundation webpage: PH Wins

Springfield News-Sun article: Trick or Treat – Ohio Shares COVID-19 Safety Tips for Halloween

ASTHO logo



This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Friday, October 29th, 2021. I'm Robert Johnson.

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


Thousands of surveys are in the mail heading to public health workers, asking them about their jobs and plans for the future. The data will help ASTHO and the de Beaumont Foundation compile the latest PHWins report.

Dr. Brian Castrucci is de Beaumont's president and CEO. He offers his take on the survey in today's morning conversation.

What do you think de Beaumont and ASTHO will learn from the results of that work?


I am incredibly excited about the PHWins survey that we're collecting right now.

We have questions in there about CDC's declaration of racism as a public health crisis; we have a validated PTSD scale in the survey; we're going to get to know how public health practitioners who are in our local health departments and state health departments have fared through this pandemic, what their impressions are of the COVID response.

And so, these are the data that every elected official wants to and should know about the state of our public health workforce. This would just be like trying to understand the state of our troops during a war; and if that morale's not there, if they don't feel supported, this is a major crisis for our country.


How can people in public health, leaders across the country, use those results once they have those in their hands next year?


I think every health department, when they get those results, needs to look at them and understand how to build back even better as a public health department.

We have to look to the future. We have to think about how do we make our workforce feel valued, and how do we make sure that we're letting them exercise their creativity, and also keeping them safe from harassment from a very small group of people.

And so, really taking that information in and developing very clear workforce development plans—that's how you use those data to achieve excellence in our health departments.



You can tell by the music Halloween is Sunday and, by all accounts, it might be a little less stressful than last year thanks to vaccines and declining COVID cases in many parts of the country. Still, public health officials are reminding parents of little ghouls and goblins to keep their germs to themselves.

This is Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, director of the Ohio Department of Health, on costumes, tricks, and treats.


You know, Halloween, by its very nature, offers us some terrific opportunities to incorporate masks—face coverings—into our costuming in a creative way. So, number one, wear a mask. And the good news is, with trick or treat, you know, masking has been part of trick or treating for a long time; it's just, this time, we're asking for a different kind of mask to be incorporated. But you can imagine all kinds of creative ways that that could be safely and appropriately done.

Secondly, trick or treaters should really travel in small groups—small groups of people that they're normally with rather than in those large groups that sometimes we'd see as they go from house to house.

Third, let's not forget about the importance of hand hygiene and cough etiquette, especially if we're going to be around others.

And finally, let's think about what that environment at the doorstep or wherever the candy is being distributed looks like. Children should avoid gathering in a big group, tight in, at a doorstep.



The holiday season is in full swing and that has reporters in New Mexico asking questions about COVID guidance for Thanksgiving travelers.

Dr. David Scrase is secretary of health in New Mexico. He told reporters Wednesday that, although air travel has gotten safer, people should continue to take steps to reduce their exposure to the virus when at airports or on planes.


My joke is that I wear that N95 mask, the wraparound eye protection, and then I get three rolls of Saran wrap and just cover my whole body—but only the Saran wrap is a joke.

I think extreme caution with travel, not taking that mask off on the plane or in the airport, and just general good hygiene, and thinking about how you serve the food, and those sorts of things to prevent spread.



Visit the show notes to find links to all the stories mentioned in today's newscast.


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Join us Monday morning for more ASTHO news and information.

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

David R Scrase MD

Cabinet Secretary, New Mexico Human Services Department

Bruce Vanderhoff MD MBA

Director, Ohio Department of Health

Brian Castrucci DrPh MA

President and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation