72: Public Health Thank You Day

ASTHO CEO Mike Fraser offers his thoughts on today’s Public Health Thank You Day celebration recognizing public health workers across the states and territories. He also previews a special event at the White House scheduled for Noon eastern time;...

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ASTHO CEO Mike Fraser offers his thoughts on today’s Public Health Thank You Day celebration recognizing public health workers across the states and territories. He also previews a special event at the White House scheduled for Noon eastern time; and Stephen Lee, Executive Director of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, gives us his “thankful” note to mark the day.

ASTHO Blog Article: Public Health Thank You Day – Thoughts from ASTHO Leadership

APHA webpage: Public Health Thank You Day

ASTHO logo



This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Monday, November 22nd, 2021. I'm Robert Johnson.

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


It's finally here—Public Health Thank You Day is today, and saying thank you this year couldn't be more important. To celebrate, ASTHO dedicates this morning's episode to public health professionals across the states and territories. ASTHO CEO Mike Fraser stops by to offer his thoughts about the moment. It's a special morning conversation.

What makes this day—Public Health Thank You Day—so important, epecially now?


Public health professionals have been through a lot with COVID, and this particular Public Health Thank You Day I think is all the more poignant and salient for people. They need to hear how appreciated they are for this work.

There's a lot of public visibility for healthcare workers—folks working in hospitals and clinics—which of course have done extreme work to meet the challenges of the pandemic. But public health professionals are often either invisible or behind the scenes on the backstage; so bringing them to the front of the stage, to the forefront, today is extremely important for us to just say thanks, to express our gratitude.


Is this a day that people outside of public health can also take part in?


I sure hope so. I think what we need to hear loud and clear from the entire nation is "thank you" to our public health professionals, to recognize the work that they've done.

We know there are people who disagree with some of the mitigation and containment measures that have been used in COVID, and there's lots of questions about public health authority moving into the future—but let's put that aside today. Let's just say thanks to people who have dedicated their professional careers to improving the health of our nation, of our public.

And, you know, to us there's no greater good than that. And I think we should all be appreciative of those contributions, many of which included a ton of sacrifice.


How is ASTHO celebrating the day?


Well, we're marking the day in a special way. We have been told by the White House that there will be a recognition at noon. We are looking forward to remarks from the White House and the opportunity from the highest federal officials we can possibly hear from to potentially share the thanks.


That's a big win.


We hope so. We're looking forward to it.

But I think just the fact that the president and his administration acknowledge the contributions of our public health workforce and want to set aside some time to acknowledge the public health workforce and the work of our state and territorial health officials is extremely important.

It's a win for us, obviously, but it's really a important recognition of the role public health professionals play in our country. And one that we—of course, every day is thank you day for us, but this is a special day.


Looking beyond this day, this momentary celebration, what can we do? What should we do as an industry to try and keep the momentum going, to say "thank you" all of the time, to do that through words, actions—what is that?


Well, the first thing we could do to thank a public health official is get vaccinated if you're not vaccinated—it's going to make our lives easier, it's going to make the work of public health easier, it's going to use our resources much more wisely.

The second thing you can do is support your public health department, your public health agency, to get involved in the work of public health.

Public health is a social good, but it's also—there's personal responsibility involved, and making good decisions for your health helps us all out.


ASTHO senior leaders have come together to share their notes of thanks in a new blog article now online. Read it using the link in the show notes.


All month long, we've heard guests on the newscast answer a simple question: what are you thankful for this year? As we continue to celebrate Public Health Thank You Day, we get a thankful note from Stephen Lee, executive director of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS directors.


This may seem obvious, but what I am thankful for this year is the fact that we have access to COVID-19 vaccinations that actually work to prevent people from developing severe COVID-19 infection.



Remember, every story in this newscast has a link to follow for more information—those can be found in the show notes.


That'll do it for today's report.


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If you have time, we'd be grateful if you could leave us a rating and a review.


We're taking the rest of this week off for Thanksgiving, but we'll be back bright and early next Monday morning with more ASTHO news and information.

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

Stephen Lee

Executive Director of NASTAD