To help counteract the "infodemic" of misinformation and rumors, APHA has been giving expert commentary and background during the COVID-19 pandemic. A few highlights:
Fauci joins YouTube coronavirus special aimed at Black community (The Hill, July 27)
In the approximately nine-minute long video, posted to the American Public Health Association's YouTube channel, the doctors and Fauci discuss the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine and address vaccine hesitancy in Black and brown communities.
'A tipping point': Government officials, health groups move to require coronavirus vaccines for workers (The Washington Post, July 26)
The flurry of activity kicked off on Monday morning, when medical groups representing millions of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health workers issued a statement urging mandatory vaccinations for all U.S. health personnel, framing the move as a moral imperative as new infections mount.
“The health and safety of U.S. workers, families, communities, and the nation depends on it,” the American Pharmacists Association, the American Public Health Association and 55 other groups wrote in the statement.
The move represented an increasingly tough stance by the medical and public health establishment amid the sluggish pace of national vaccinations.
McConnell pushes vaccines, but GOP muddles his message (The Hill, July 23)
“He could have provided a leadership role, he could have pulled his caucus into the back room and said, ‘You guys need to get on board here.’ He did not do that," said Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “He had the opportunity to lead his party. And had he done so, I think that we would have a much different outcome than we're seeing today in communities that have heard these negative messages."
White house boosts funding for COVID tests as infections continue to surge (NBC News, July 22)
Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said: "Everybody in public health recognizes that we're moving into a spot in which we had been at the beginning of the pandemic, where you need adequate testing. We're going to be testing again, and in much larger numbers."
COVID Drove Biggest Drop in U.S. Life Expectancy Since World War II (U.S. News & World Report, July 21)
According to Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, "In many ways, the report tells us the profound impact of COVID, not only just direct COVID deaths, but of course, on other diseases that probably were exacerbated. Losing a year of life expectancy is a big, big deal."
Delta variant now accounts for more than 8 in 10 COVID-19 cases (Yahoo News, July 20)
“There is a simple public message: Get vaccinated or get COVID,” Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director at the American Public Health Association, told the Washington Examiner recently.
The Check Up: Dr. Georges Benjamin (Modern Healthcare, July 19)
"You have to not only be clear about the message but also about the messenger. And we have to kind of normalize vaccination in our country. It's become, as you said, a political football."
'These Kids Will Die': Health Experts Sound Alarm Over TN Shutting Down Vaccine Outreach to Minors (TPM, July 15)
Without the Tennessee Department of Health providing much-needed education on vaccines, “these kids will die,” Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association (APHA), told TPM in a phone interview. “Too many Tennessean kids will die.”
How mask shaming affects immunocompromised people (ABC News, July 14)
Precautions such as masks and social distancing re still important methods to contain the spread of the virus, according to Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association.
“Every time you give up those layers, you'll increase your risk of getting exposed, getting infected and then, depending on your body, getting severely sick,” Benjamin said.
A pandemic without an end: How systemic racism is hampering vaccine uptake (Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism, July 14)
As Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, admitted in April: “We overstated the hesitancy issue” and “understated the structural access issues”.
New York takes conservative approach counting virus deaths (Associated Press, July 13)
“We need to make sure we get it right, and people understand what the numbers are. And how we’re using them so they can’t be misused by people who have a motive to misuse them,” said Georges Benjamin, a physician and executive director at the American Public Health Association.
Nurses ask CDC to reinstate universal masking rule (Modern Healthcare, July 13)
COVID-19 put the spotlight on health disparities between groups, shows how wide the gap was before the pandemic (CBS-17, July 9)
“It’s a range of things, looking at the social determinants of health,” Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, one of the organizations that worked on the report, said.
He continued, “Those are the things that can help you become more healthy, or can impede your health.”
Life Lessons From the Pandemic (Consumer Reports, July 8)
“We learned a lot about the ability to telework and still get the work done,” says Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association (APHA). “The technology exists to do it effectively.”
Reports of Some Getting Pfizer, Moderna 'Boosters' after J&J Vaccine Prompts Calls for More Guidance (U.S. News & World Report, July 1)
But [APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin] doesn't recommend that clinicians go ahead and mix doses. Instead, he urges them to continue to follow CDC and FDA guidance, lest a patient get seriously sick or injured, opening clinicians up to liability. Instead, dose mixing should only be performed under clinical trials, he says.
House Lawmakers Eager to Boost Vaccine Uptake, Quash Hesitancy (MedPage Today, July 1)
America needs a "shoe-leather public-health" approach to address vaccine hesitancy, one focused on vulnerable communities, especially those of color, said Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association and Maryland's former Secretary of Health.
Anatomy of a health conundrum: The racial gap in vaccinations (Washington Post, June 27)
“What often happens is we get close to the finish line, and we kind of stop,” said Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “The queues for getting vaccinated diminish, so they stop having some of the evening hours. They stop having weekend hours. Those are the services that get pulled back first."
White House faces calls to embrace vaccine passports (The Hill, June 26)
“In the places where we're looking at right now, it will get very political very fast,” said Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.
Vaccine hesitancy or systemic racism (Mail & Guardian Online, June 26)
As Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said in April: “We overstated the hesitancy issue,” and “understated the structural access issues”.
For Some Vaccinated People, Masks Remain Comforting (WebMD, June 25)
Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association, says the politicization of masks, testing program failures and lack of communication led to an uncomfortable situation.
Drop in Life Expectancy from COVID Much Worse for Black, Hispanic Americans (HealthDay News, June 24)
The numbers "give you just a blood-curdling view of how really devastating this pandemic was," said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, in Washington, D.C.
What happens now that emergency orders are lifting (Axios, June 17)
If variants or other factors begin to overwhelm communities and hospitals with cases in the fall, reinstating emergency orders and restrictions could erode public trust in politicians and public health capabilities, Georges Benjamin, a medical doctor and executive director of the American Public Health Association, tells Axios.
CDC issues guidance for treating 'long COVID' patients (Roll Call, June 15)
Georges Benjamin, the American Public Health Association executive director, said one underlying question about long-term problems is whether the coronavirus is causing new conditions, or whether doctors are observing an illness that already existed.
As virus cases wane, U.S. governors weigh ending emergency orders (Associated Press, June 12)
For many governors, keeping emergency declarations in place may be less disruptive to the public than rescinding and later re-imposing them if the pandemic worsens, said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.
But for other governors, it might be advantageous to relinquish their emergency powers, he said. “Quite frankly, in a state where you’re worried that people will accuse you of misusing those authorities, if you don’t need them, you might want to get rid of them,” Benjamin said.
The Fundamental Question of the Pandemic is Shifting (The Atlantic, June 9)
“From the very beginning, I’ve thought that the way we’ve dealt with the pandemic reflects our narrow focus on the individual,” [APHA Past President] Camara Jones, a social epidemiologist at Morehouse School of Medicine, told me.
Young adults shun COVID-19 vaccine as White House warns of risk (Roll Call, June 8)
Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said he is concerned the virus will mutate rapidly within unvaccinated, young and healthy people and create a new strain that is resistant to the COVID-19 vaccines on the market.
“The best way to think about them is little brushfires, little outbreaks,” Benjamin said. “We’re running the risk of starting this thing all over again.”
Vaccine Hesitancy in Communities of Color Eases — A Bit (WebMD, June 8)
Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association, says he’s not surprised by those numbers, but it’s complicated.
“There are a lot of people in the African American community that wanted to get vaccinated but they didn’t want to be first,” Benjamin says.
Biden's 70% vaccination goal still within reach, expert believes (Washington Examiner, June 8)
“I’m highly optimistic, but it will be tight,” [APHA Executive Director Georges] Benjamin said. “The administration has revved up advocacy, public health, and other groups for this next month. If that revs up to the capacity that we know exists, that’s where you’ll see my optimism.”
Biden's vaccine push fails to gain traction with African Americans (Politico, June 7)
“I have seen a real explosion in the Hispanic community being reached out to in their own language,” said Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, adding that the challenge in the Black community has been finding both the most effective messengers and approaches. “The things that have created disparities in the first place, we have fixed some of them. But not all of them, and not to a large enough degree.”
COVID-19 Maps Reveal Political Divide, Public Health Service Disparities (Newsweek, June 2)
Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, said the vaccination trends, which could still shift over time as the vaccination rollout continues, are "disappointing" but "not surprising."