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Pitt Public Health welcomes students with opera about Semmelweis challenge of established medical profession

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TRIB LIVE – Semmelweis’ life story is both inspiring and tragic. He was an early pioneer of antiseptic procedures when “childbed fever” deaths were common if births were attended by physicians rather than midwives. The composer sees parallels between then and our pandemic now. The haunting work was created by American composer Raymond J. Lustig, Irish-American librettist Matthew Doherty and Hungarian director Martin Boross.  

Study Asserts School Closures in the Spring Saved Lives, but Donohue has questions

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NEW YORK TIMES - “We really can’t isolate the impact of school closures from other interventions,” said HPM’s Julie Donohue. “I do worry that these large estimates of the effect of school closures will lead people to give up because it is going to be challenging to open schools. I do worry that some districts will look at these numbers and say, well, it’s just too hard and it’s not safe to reopen.”  

Burke talks about how Pittsburgh’s virus success fizzled in crowded bars, eateries

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AP – Epidemiologist Donald S. Burke said a preliminary review of mobility data shows the recent spike is consistent with an outbreak fueled by a narrow demographic such as younger people at bars and restaurants. As a second tier of hot-spot cities, Pittsburgh is still fertile ground for the virus. “The real question is are we going to overwhelm the hospital capacity in our region? Are we going to have the number of ICU beds and ventilators?”  

Gary-Webb testifies at PA Democratic Health Committee on Black COVID-19 Equity Coalition

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EPI's Tiffany Gary-Webb presented testimony on COVID-19 disparities and our equity response at the July 15 House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on COVID-19 Health Disparities, impressing Representative Stephen Kinsey who wants to follow-up with Gary-Webb to connect the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh groups and using the Pittsburgh group as a model for others.   

Albert on the COVID-19 testing shortage; Allegheny County residents share difficulties getting timely results

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PUBLIC SOURCE – BCHS’ Steven Albert believes the Allegheny County Health Department has done a great job despite a meager federal response and a decades-long disinvestment in public health. He said when our health department says to stay home if you have a problem but only get a test if you’re symptomatic, that shows we don’t have the testing apparatus we need. If it takes a week to get test results, we’re failing miserably.  

Why are minorities getting hit harder by COVID-19? Partly because of systemic racism, says Gary-Webb

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THE MORNING CALL - EPI's Tiffany Gary-Webb, member of the Pittsburgh Black Covid-19 Equity Coalition, said there is a lack of robust and accessible testing, and that testing sites are not concentrated in communities of color. “We know that there’s disproportionate impacts, so we really think interventions now are desperately needed,” she said. “The narrative is clear, so now we really need to take action.”  

Goldstein says EPA must consider COVID-19 when setting air pollutant standards

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THE HILL - EOH's Bernard Goldstein contributed an op-ed to The Hill urging the EPA to consider COVID-19 when setting air pollutant standards.  ​"With so many Americans at risk," he says, "the EPA needs to withdraw its proposed particulate standards and seriously consider the impact of COVID-19 on the adequacy of the margin of safety required for air pollutant standards. Otherwise, we will be condemned to wait until the next review at least fiv... 

Gender Equity Commission report calls for swift action on inequities in Pittsburgh

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PUBLIC SOURCE - A new Gender Equity Commission report lists 11 recommended actions to address gender and racial disparities in Pittsburgh.Gender and race are at the center of its recommendations but the report also mentions how people who are differently abled, elderly or trans, for example, can feel discrimination more acutely. India Hunter (BCHS '19) voiced her concerns. "We, as a city, we’re really good at making a lot of documents and talkin... 

EOH's Wenzel named winner of ATS AII Scientific Accomplishment Award

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EOH's Sally Wenzel has won the American Thoracic Society's AII Scientific Accomplishment Award.Dr. Wenzel’s remarkable research contributions over the years have significantly improved our understanding of asthma pathogenesis and directly impacted approach to treatment. Dr. Wenzel has developed an unparalleled translational program to study asthma’s pathobiology and mechanisms and is one of the key scientists who established the concept of asthm... 

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.  

Jeong on how to interpret daily covid-19 case counts

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TRIB LIVE - “Some people get reported at a later time and there’s a lag,” said Jong Jeong, biostatistics professor and interim chair. For more clarity you can look at the percentage of positive cases out of tests administered. But it’s still helpful to monitor the trajectory of the virus in the region. Watching case counts rise—even if the rise really occurred weeks ago—helps statisticians and scientists create models and make predictions.  

Wang receives RAC graduate student fellowship from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh

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Xinjun (David) Wang (BIOST ’22) has been awarded a graduate student fellowship from UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. He received a perfect review score in the application despite the strong competition this year. The fellowship will provide support for two years for him to work on his thesis “Machine Learning and Statistical Methods for Analyzing Single-cell Multi-omics Data.” Congratulations Xinjun!  

Brown talks about health equity implications of SCOTUS decision on employment protections for SGM

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"The June 15, 2020, decision by the Supreme Court of the United States affirming Federal Civil Rights protections in employment for sexual and gender minorities (SGM) across the country has significant health equity implications...we celebrate this decision as a positive step toward creating more equitable health and social environments for those in our communities who exist across the gender and sexuality spectrum," said BCHS's Andre Brown.   


COVID-19 and Protesting: How to Stay Safe

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COVID-19 can spread in large groups. The Allegheny County Health Department shares some steps you can take to keep each other safe before, during, and after protests.  

EOH's Social Justice Bookshelf

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Encouraged by the activism of MD/PhD candidate Alexander Schuyler, EOH Chair Sally Wenzel employed the technical savvy of EOH IT Manager Adam Orbell to create the digital EOH Social Justice Bookshelf. Many of the titles are available to read online for those in the Pitt community with Pitt Passport access. Check out the recommended readings, as well as another new feature, a spotlight on EOH faculty journal publications.   

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... 

‘Desperation science’ slows the hunt for coronavirus drugs, but Angus is speeding it up

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AP NEWS - HPM’s Derek Angus, UPMC’s critical care chief, is using an innovative study using artificial intelligence to help pick treatments. Forty regional hospitals joined more from the United Kingdom to randomly assign patients to one of dozens of possible treatments, adapting treatments based on the results. If a drug looks like a winner, the computer assigns more people to get it. The system “learns on the fly.  

Roberts breaks down 'herd immunity' strategy to combat novel coronavirus (video)

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WTAE NEWS - In the absence of a vaccine, said HPM Chair Mark Roberts, at least 60% of the population must contract and recover from the virus. But 1 percent of COVID-19 cases are fatal. “That’s a huge number of deaths in Allegheny County to achieve herd immunity.” If we continue without vaccine, eventually we will achieve herd immunity, but it comes at a cost of lives lost and overwhelmed hospitals.  

My gym is reopening. Reed isn't sure it’s safe to work out there.

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NPR - If you want to exercise indoors, it’s safer to do it at home, says IDM’s Doug Reed, an immunologist and aerobiologist. If you do go to the gym and you’re breathing heavily, it would be better to double your regular physical distance to 12 feet, because we don’t know exactly how far virus particles travel when people are breathing heavily. The potential for being infected or spreading the infection could be much higher.  

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Mendez receives national recognition for maternal and child health research 

Mendez receives national recognition for maternal and child health research

PITTWIRE - The Coalition for Excellence in Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology and 15 national health organizations selected EPI's Dara Mendez as the recipient of the 2020 Award for Effective Practice at the Community Level. Mendez specializes in understanding and addressing racial and socioecon... (09/07/2020)
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University draws on own experts to guide health and safety decisions 

University draws on own experts to guide health and safety decisions

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’... (06/17/2020)
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O'Neal Summons Satan for Starring Role 

O'Neal Summons Satan for Starring Role

PITTWIRE - Pitt Public Health staff member Scott O'Neal recently took center stage to sing the title role in the world premiere of "Satan's Fall," composed by Steward Copeland, founder of the iconic New Wave band The Police. The metal opera, based on "Paradise Lost", was co-commissioned by the Mend... (02/24/2020)


Featuring the latest research, opportunities, and groundbreaking developments from CEPH-accredited schools and programs of public health. Review theFriday Letter submission guidelines then share your story ideas via publichealth.pitt.edu/share-news or contact phcomm@pitt.edu. 
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McTigue among researchers collecting stories of COVID-19 patients in Story Booth project 

McTigue among researchers collecting stories of COVID-19 patients in Story Booth project

TRIB LIVE - Story Booth dates back to 2016 and features stories of patients with ailments from cancer to organ transplantation. "In the long term, we think that these kinds of studies may be particularly well-suited to provide the data that patients and their health care teams need to make better d... (08/19/2020)