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Study finds 35 percent of counties have two or fewer facilities to administer Covid-19 vaccines

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NBC NEWS -  With 200 million vaccine doses due by the end of March, states, and counties have been left to sort out where to send vaccines first and how to get them there. A study found tremendous variation in how far people would need to drive for the vaccine, with 35 percent of counties having two or fewer facilities to administer Covid-19 vaccines. Those with long driving distances between sites and a low number of sites overall “are going to... 

Gov. Wolf awards Pitt Public Health $2.5M to study health impacts of fracking

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TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT -  Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has awarded a $2.5 million contract to research the potential health effects of hydraulic fracturing in the state in two epidemiological studies to be conducted over the next two years. EPI's Evelyn Talbott will investigate the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and the development of childhood cancers, while BIOS' Jeanine Buchanich will examine acute conditions, such as asthma and birth ... 

Trump administration keeps existing smog limits, rejecting calls to toughen them

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THE WASHINGTON POST - EOH's Bernard Goldstein, who is a former assistant administrator for research and development at the EPA, faulted EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler with failing to take COVID-19 into account when setting standards for either ozone or fine particles. “There were so many ways he could have done it,” Goldstein said. “Instead, what he did was to ignore it.”   

"It's going to be a long road" - What IDM's Peter Salk thinks about COVID-19

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USA TODAY - Jonas Salk’s vaccine helped wipe polio from most of the world, something that many people hope will happen with the coronavirus vaccine. However, IDM's Dr. Peter Salk warns eradicating polio from the U.S. was a long and difficult journey, and he doesn’t expect eliminating COVID-19 will be any easier. “It’s going to be a long road, just even getting enough vaccines out to people around the world."  

Biden coronavirus task force appointee Michael Osterholm discusses "The COVID Pandemic: The Evolving Reality" (video)

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In a special IDM Seminar, Michael T. Osterholm answers questions regarding the epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 infection, public health strategies to reduce transmission, and thoughts on how the world will likely look one year from now. Osterholm was recently appointed to President-elect Biden's coronavirus task force and directs the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.  

Virtual Agents of Change: How Computers Are Mapping Covid-19's Future

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KNOWABLE MAGAZINE—Instead of trying to analyze how society functions from the top down, agent-based modeling tackles the problem from the other end, focusing on individuals."We have (modeled) every person in the US, where they live, where they go to school, where they go to work," says EPI's Donald Burke of PHDL's FRED. This approach both predicts the pandemic's future trajectory and gives insights into the effects of public health strategies. ... 

Albert among 3 Pitt Experts on Reasons for Optimism in 2021

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PITTWIRE — Optimism is hardwired in most humans, says public health professor Steve Albert. If you don’t feel like you’re one of them right now, here are three perspectives on why, despite all that 2020 brought us, things are looking brighter.  

Doctors say state's mitigation orders will stem hospitalizations

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PITTSBURGH BUSINESS TIMES  - Doctors say the state’s new mitigation efforts will help blunt the accelerating Covid-19 cases. “We have to close those down until we get enough of the vaccine around and enough people who are immune to stop the transmission," said HPM's Mark Roberts, adding that there are ways to mitigate the impact on businesses. Pitt’s advanced simulation system, called FRED, shows stricter physical distancing regulations can esse... 

On Eve of Vaccine Campaign, Some States Still Uncertain of Supply - Gellad discusses risks

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BLOOMBERG NEWS - The risk that subsequent doses might be delayed should be weighed against the benefit of inoculating more people more quickly, said HPM's Walid Gellad, director of the Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing .“The decision is not, do we give everyone one shot?” Gellad said. “The decision is, do you take a risk that the second shot will be delayed?”  

Improving access to maternal care

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POST-GAZETTE - HPM's Marian Jarlenski calls for Medicaid policies to shift from pregnancy-specific benefits and toward a comprehensive approach that enables management of chronic conditions before, between and after pregnancies; enhances the ability to access and use contraception to avoid or delay pregnancy; and allows for people to obtain abortion care when faced with an undesired or medically risky pregnancy.  

Researchers scan DNA to learn how facial features form

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THE CONVERSATION - Until very recently, geneticists had virtually no understanding of which parts of our DNA were linked to even the most basic aspects of facial appearance. HUGEN's John R. Shaffer and Pitt’s Seth M. Weinberg explore questions like: Can we reliably predict a person’s face from their DNA? What are the implications for health and disease?  

Feeling stressed about your role in life? For women, that could be a health risk

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AHA NEWS - How a woman feels about her roles at home and at work during midlife can affect several factors that influence her heart health. Dissertation research by lead author Andrea Leigh Stewart (EPI '18)  found women who felt more stressed had greater odds of having high blood pressure, being overweight, and not eating a healthy diet. Conversely, those who felt their roles were more rewarding were substantially more likely to be physically a... 

White House bet on Pfizer doses raises concerns about vaccine supply

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THE HILL - The Trump administration's decision not to purchase additional doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine could prove to be a risky gamble resulting in vaccination delays. IDM's Amy Hartman said it appeared that the administration was hedging its bets. "I think it's easy in hindsight to say yeah, they should have [secured more doses]." But Hartman was not sure why the U.S. would decline to buy more doses once they knew initial results wer... 

AMA: Racism is a threat to public health

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AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION - Building on it's June pledge to confront systemic racism and police brutality, the AMA has taken action to explicitly recognize racism as a public health threat and detailed a plan to mitigate its effects.       

Call to Action: Structural Racism as a Fundamental Driver of Health Disparities: A Presidential Advisory from the American Heart Association

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CIRCULATION - Structural racism has been and remains a fundamental cause of persistent health disparities in the United States. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and multiple others have been reminders that structural racism persists and restricts the opportunities for long, healthy lives of Black Americans and other historically disenfranchised groups.   

American Diabetes Association unveils scientific review on social determinants of health and diabetes

AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION - "People living with diabetes face many challenges. Some of these relate to the disease itself, but increasingly we recognize the importance of many social determinants," said Robert A. Gabbay, chief scientific and medical officer of the ADA. "The scientific review not only defines these issues but shines a bright light on the resulting health disparities and articulates an important research agenda to address thes... 

Lead in game meat a health risk for hunting families and food bank recipients

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THE ALLEGHENY FRONT - In an extensive podcast interview, MPH student Samantha Totoni (EOH '21) discusses the risks of lead shot in hunted meat.  Scientists have found concentrations of lead more than 100 times the limit in the meat of lead shot carcasses, which can be particularly dangerous if the meat is ground and donated to food banks. PA has no inspection requirement for game meat donations.    

Lagged Association of Ambient Outdoor Air Pollutants with Asthma-Related Emergency Department Visits within the Pittsburgh Region

Brandy M. Byrwa-Hill, Arvind Venkat, Albert A. Presto, Judith R. Rager, Deborah Gentile, and Evelyn Talbott find an association between O 3 exposure in children and NO 2 and CO exposure in adults and asthma-related ED visits within the greater Pittsburgh area.   

An Expert’s Mental Health Reminders

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PITTWIRE - Finals are here. Winter is coming. Pitt psychiatry and epidemiology expert Rebecca Thurston offers reminders to care for yourself during tough times.  

New AHA Scientific Statement on Menopause and CVD Risk

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NEWS MEDICAL - Changes in hormones, body composition, lipids, and vascular health during the menopause transition can increase a woman's chance of developing cardiovascular disease after menopause, the American Heart Association said in a scientific statement. EPI's Samar R. El Khoudary, who chaired the AHA writing group, stressed "monitoring women's health during midlife and targeting this stage as a critical window for applying early intervent... 

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BIG STAKES, BIG STATS: Making sense of COVID-19 trials 

BIG STAKES, BIG STATS: Making sense of COVID-19 trials

PITTWIRE — When we hear about clinical trials, we might picture doctors and patients partnering to test new therapies. What we might not think about are the many others who make those studies happen. Take Maria Mori Brooks, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, who makes sense of the numbers... (02/24/2021)
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Covid vaccine misinformation target of Pitt study 

Covid vaccine misinformation target of Pitt study

KDKA CBS NEWS — Fueled by a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Pitt researchers are studying and combating false online information about vaccines. “Vaccines are often the victim of their own success,” said BCHS doctoral student Beth Hoffman, a research assistant at the Center for Resea... (02/01/2021)
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Albert among 3 Pitt Experts on Reasons for Optimism in 2021 

Albert among 3 Pitt Experts on Reasons for Optimism in 2021

PITTWIRE — Optimism is hardwired in most humans, says public health professor Steve Albert. If you don’t feel like you’re one of them right now, here are three perspectives on why, despite all that 2020 brought us, things are looking brighter. (12/16/2020)


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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Pitt study shows restaurant advertisements linked to weight gain 

Pitt study shows restaurant advertisements linked to weight gain

INSIDE LIFE CHANGING MEDICINE - HPM's Marian Jarlenski and fellow researchers looked at the medical records of patients with various socio-economic statuses and compared them to how much money fast food and casual dining chains spent on marketing per capita in the county where each of the patients ... (02/01/2021)