Epi Faculty News

Harrison co-authors Conversation piece - Massive numbers of new COVID-19 infections, not vaccines, are the main driver of new coronavirus variants

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THE CONVERSATION – The rise of coronavirus variants globally has highlighted the huge influence evolutionary biology has on daily life. But how mutations, random chance, and natural selection produce variants is a complicated process. What EPI and IDM’s Lee Harrison and a Pitt Medicine colleague have learned over the past 18 months of following how the coronavirus has acquired different mutations around the world.  

U.S. Energy Firms Launching Employee COVID-19 Vaccination Mandates

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REUTERS - Energy and construction workers have some of the lowest vaccine uptake rates, according to an online survey led by EPI's Wendy King. Some 45% of extraction and construction workers said they were hesitant to get the vaccine, versus just 7.3% in the computer and mathematical professions, the May survey showed.   

A group of moms on Facebook built an island of good-faith vaccine debate in a sea of misinformation

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THE WASHINGTON POST - People concerned about vaccine safety may be easier to convince than those who don't trust the government or medical authorities, said EPI's Wendy King (EPI '04). Earlier this year, King surveyed more than 5 million U.S. adults about their attitudes toward coronavirus vaccines. Many who said they may not or won't get vaccinated said they feared side effects – a sign they may be influenced by misinformation.  

Harrison talks about when boosters might be available to the general public

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PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE REVIEW - "What they're aiming for is starting September 20, eight months after the second dose. I'm hoping the rollout will go smoothly starting on that date. The process is authorization by FDA for a booster dose, and then ACIP makes the recommendation about the booster dose." said EPI's Lee Harrison.   

Mendez analysis shows legislation addressing racism as a public health crisis surges but lacks funding

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UPMC -  “The fact that these resolutions and declarations garnered enough support to pass in multiple state and local governments is worthy of celebration,” said lead author EPI’s Dara Mendez, interim director of the Center for Health Equity. “Simultaneously, it signals an opportunity to advocate for further action to eliminate racism, which has well-documented negative effects on the health of individuals and communities...  

PA is trying county fairs, text messages, and door-knocking to raise the vaccination rate. Success is slowly coming.

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PHILADEPHIA INQUIERER - "The issues left are vaccine hesitancy, or they don't feel there's a strong enough need to jump through the hoops they would need to to get the vaccine," said EPI's Wendy King. Her research includes a nationwide survey of more than five million respondents and suggests that while vaccine hesitancy as a whole is decreasing, there's still a consistent group of people who say they will "definitely not" get a vaccine.   

Gary-Webb is Co-Author on Equitable Data Analysis: Lessons from a COVID-19 Research Collaborative

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THE RAND BLOG - The health inequities exposed by COVID-19 underscored the importance of collecting race-stratified data to inform local policymakers and revealed major pitfalls for public health researchers relying on open-source data. These and other contributing factors led to RAND, the Black Equity Coalition, and Surgo Ventures to collaborate on a tool to report on COVID-19 vulnerability and disparities using publicly-available data in Allegh... 

Will COVID-19 face mask mandates return? Depends on where you live. King says vaccine safety messaging is key.

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - Getting people vaccinated is still the best course of action against COVID-19. "Messaging on safey is key" to reaching the most resistant to vaccines, said EPI's Wendy King, author of a study on vaccine hesitancy. "Leaving it up to the invididual is no public health approach at all."  

Meet our Faculty: Anne Newman

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We certainly have a lot of certified multitaskers amongst our faculty here at Pitt Public Health, and Dr. Anne Newman is no exception. While she didn't become a cake decorator as she thought in childhood, she is the chair of the Department of Epidemiology and works with several organizations outside of Pitt, including serving as the editor in chief of the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Science. "I'm excited to take a fresh look at the world pos... 

COVID Cases Still Low in Allegheny County, While Opioid Overdoses Continue to Plague Residents

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WESA-FM - "[That's] a big loophole there in terms of potentially not having people covered who are sick," said board chair IDM and EPI's Lee Harrison.   

Gary-Webb accepts award for impact of data from the Black Equity Coalition

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NATIONAL NEIGHBORHOOD INDICATORS PARTNERSHIP - Harnessing interdisciplinary expertise and perspectives, the Black Equity Coalition in Pittsburgh successfully used data to advocate for programs and policies to decrease racial disparities in COVID-19 response and created a forum to tackle other health inequities. "Seeing something happen right away was extremely different from the past - that we saw a problem, advocated for things to be fixed, and... 

Gary-Webb featured in PHRESH: Communities Thrive When Residents are Involved in Decisions That Affect Their Neighborhoods

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"The Hill District and Homewood are similar and different in various ways. They're similar in the sense that they've been relatively stable over time and they have predominantly Black populations but they have very different histories overtime," explains EPI's TIffany Gary-Webb, assocaite dean for diversity and inclusion and associate director of the Center for Health Equity in this video from a RAND Corporation series.   

Burke, Jalal, and Lee Look at the Waves of COVID-19 Washed Across North America

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UPMC - The COVID-19 pandemic "waves" that North Americans experienced over the past year and a half had interconnected patterns that moved through space and time — and they weren't just limited to the U.S. New research from Pitt Public Health shows the waxing and waning COVID-19 case counts traveled across North American county, state and county borders with seemlingly little regard for politics and public health mandates, much like a storm can ... 

Four SWAN studies explore women's brain and heart health during midlife

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NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON AGING - Meaningful research from our students, alumni, and faculty suggest that midlife health may be an important determinant of cognitive function and heart health later on in life. Featuring work from four SWAN manuscripts, one led by EPI's Emma Barinas-Mitchell (EPI '98) for which Emily Duan (EPI '17) performed the analysis, and another led by Saad Samargandy (EPI '20). Franya Hutchins (EPI '20) performed the analyses f... 

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