Epi Department News

Pandav provides COVID-19 update on the situation in Timor-Leste

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Rajesh Pandav (EPI ‘01) is currently a WHO representative for the Timor-Leste government. Pandav provided a COVID-19 update on the situation in the island nation, the preparedness and response measures put into place, and addressed continuing challenges in a recent update that was posted to the YouTube channel for the WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia  

Burke on Allegheny County’s increase in opioid overdose deaths

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POST-GAZETTE - “The epidemic has a lot of drivers that go deep into society. It’s a combination of the persons who are susceptible to drug use because of unemployment and a sense of despair in many parts of our country,” Dean Emeritus Donald Burke said. And now that the world is in the middle of a pandemic where stay-at-home orders leave people isolated, unemployed, and stressed, he doesn’t doubt there will be an increase in 2020.  

What the Allegheny County Health Department is doing to address health disparities. An open letter to the community.

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NEXT PITTSBURGH - Allegheny County, like Minneapolis, has substantial racial disparities that impact all of us. Our communities are starkly divided along racial and ethnic lines. With these lines come distinct differences in access to housing, education, transportation and employment. These differences translate directly to worse health outcomes among our communities of color. In Allegheny County, black people have dramatically higher rates of b... 

Masks and Much More: Public Health in the Time of COVID-19

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PITTSBURGH CURRENT—"Green is associated with 'go,' 'all clear,' 'nothing to worry about'—but during this pandemic, green could not be further from the truth." Doctoral candidate Chantele Mitchell-Miland (EPI '20) and advisor EPI's Dara Mendez explain why we all still need to be vigilant and practice infection prevention precautions. The authors discuss transmission, testing and tracing, disparate impacts, and the mental health toll, calling for ... 

Q&A: Healthcare Advisory Group members weigh in on COVID-19 questions

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EPI Chair Anne Newman and EOH Chair Sally Wenzel join additional members of the Healthcare Advisory Group for a Q&A focusing on COVID-19. The group, which includes a multifaceted panel of experts in health care, law, medicine, public health, occupational health and safety, infectious diseases and epidemiological modeling and emergency preparedness, is meeting regularly to apply their collective knowledge to the very practical questions that need... 

Coronavirus case increases and risky social behavior worry Newman

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PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER – The uptick may be linked to an increase in young adults not social distancing, so officials suspended the sale of alcohol for on-site consumption at bars and restaurants. The rise in cases suggests people don’t understand what the state’s “green” phase meant, said Anne B. Newman, EPI chair. “I think people took the green to mean that everything was fine and there wasn’t a problem.”  

Mair encourages risk priorities as a surge of coronavirus infections continues in Allegheny County

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90.5 WESA – Social epidemiologist Christina Mair has been thinking for weeks that the county needs to close bars. She acknowledges the economic repercussions but said it might help keep infection rates low enough that kids can return to school in the fall. “It’s the risk-benefit,” she added. “Where are the places where allowing more risk because they're more important?”  

Worthington interns with Hawaii Department of Health for COVID-19 project

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MPH student Ke’alohi Worthington (EPI ’21) has been performing data analyses for her internship with the Department of Health in Hawaii, which examines how COVID-19 has affected indigenous and other populations.   

University draws on own experts to guide health and safety decisions

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PITTWIRE - The new Healthcare Advisory Group, headed by Anantha Shekhar, new senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of Pitt Med, will monitor the health status of the campus and ensure compliance with legal regulations. Members, including HPM’s Mark Roberts, EPI’s Anne Newman, EOH’s Sally Wenzel, will develop recommendations for the Pitt community.  

Brent on how brief interventions are tied to lower repeat suicide attempts

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The fewer who attempt suicide, the fewer that die by suicide. These results have "important clinical implications" that should motivate healthcare systems to implement brief interventions, commented epidemiologist David Brent (’87 Hyg) and Nadine M. Melhem. “We need to be prepared with brief suicide preventive interventions that every clinician could deliver face to face or through telemedicine.”  

Health Department Responses

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EPI's Catherine Haggerty and HPM's Wendy Braund lead a conversation about the health department response to COVID-19 at the local and state levels. Haggerty starts the conversation with a discussion of the approaches, impact, and challenges of containment and mitigation efforts at the county level. Braund continues the conversation by comparing and contrasting the response at the state level.   

Fabisiak/Brink study highlights environmental injustice in Pittsburgh: Poor, minority neighborhoods see higher rates of deaths from air pollution

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ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH NEWS – EOH's James Fabisiak EPI's LuAnn Brink (IDM '98, EPI '96) estimate that 40 percent of the county's air pollution-related heart disease deaths occur where 20 percent or more individuals live in poverty and/or 30 percent or more are a racial minority. Study data will be used to evaluate the impact of environmental justice on the health of our county communities.  

Lawmakers vote to end Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 emergency, but Gov. Wolf says it’s not over. Burke is concerned.

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PENN LIVE - Epidemiologist Donald Burke said, “The reason our case rates are as low as they are right now is exactly because of these emergency orders and the business closures and mitigation efforts that have followed. To pull back completely from these protections now… would be unwise in the extreme, and bordering on suicidal,” Burke said. “I really feel that strongly about it.”  

Gary-Webb on the new Pittsburgh coalition tackling racial inequities and the pandemic

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WESA - Coalition scientists have pushed to get more coronavirus testing into communities of need. To get that done, EPI’s Tiffany Gary-Webb said they mapped out where Black families live in poverty and lack access to quality medical care, and then created an overlay showing where the federally qualified county health centers were located. That model allowed the council to effectively increase access to testing within that area.  

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