Protecting Public Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic: PHI Response & Resources
The Public Health Institute and its programs are continuing to review and share emerging science, best-practices and policy shifts that may affect how our communities, healthcare and public health systems, insurers and providers respond to and manage the COVID-19 pandemic.
Together Toward Health Equity Initiative
Thirteen major philanthropic foundations have pooled resources to launch Together Toward Health, which will connect with community based organizations to expand workforce development opportunities for Californians most impacted by COVID-19, and create and amplify public outreach efforts to reduce its spread.
Because of the speed with which new information, policies and recommendations related to COVID-19 are being updated, we are linking directly to many of our program source materials, and including time stamps. Check back often for updates.
COVID-19: Contact tracing & support
PHI is hiring for contact tracers and other associated positions. See current opportunities.
Kaiser Permanente and the Public Health Institute Partner on Clinical Initiative to Support California COVID-19 Contact Tracing
Governor Gavin Newsom announced that Kaiser Permanente has committed $63 million in grant funding to the Public Health Institute (PHI) to strengthen and support California’s contact tracing efforts in clinical settings. PHI’s Tracing Health program will hire, train and deploy approximately 500 full-time, culturally and linguistically competent clinically based team members. Collectively, they will be able to contact up to 5,500 people per day.
PHI resources on COVID-19 response
- How One District Built a Comprehensive COVID-19 Testing Program in a Month (3/2/2021): As more schools are looking to add or expand COVID-19 testing as another layer of prevention from outbreaks, PHI’s Safely Opening Schools has begun a pilot project in some California school districts that are moving to reopen with in-person classes. In Merced, the program is working with McSwain Union Elementary School District offering twice-weekly testing to all students and staff, providing valuable data and helping the schools open more safely.
- PHI Press Release: Governor Newsom Highlights Public Health Institute COVID-19 Equity Outreach and Education Initiative (2/26/2021): As vaccines roll out across the country, it has become clear in many places that the people who need them most—including non-English speakers, essential workers, and Black and brown communities who are dying at disproportionate rates—simply aren’t able to access them. Whether it is navigating confusing sign-ups, needing a car, or just being able to take time off of work, the barriers are in the system itself, and it means that privilege and resources are linked to access. PHI’s Together Toward Health (TTH) is changing that, by supporting 180 community-based organizations that are working as trusted experts in their communities to provide COVID-19 education, testing and vaccination access. In Fresno, Governor Newsom highlighted the state’s partnership with PHI and 18 major California philanthropic organizations on the $30 million initiative.
- PHI’s COVID-19 Response Highlighted in Stanford Social Innovation Review (2/18/2021): A piece by Kathleen Kelly Janus, a senior advisor on social innovation to Governor Gavin Newsom, highlights PHI’s work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including our Tracing Health contact tracing program and Together Toward Health, which supports community-based organizations in heavily impacted areas and vaccination efforts in hard to reach communities.
- Podcast: From Ebola to COVID-19: Life as a Behavioral Scientist at CDC with Dr. Neetu Abad (2/10/2021): Neetu Abad, PhD is a Behavioral Scientist for the Immunization Systems Branch at CDC headquarters in Atlanta, and serves as a mentor for the PHI/CDC Global Health Fellowship Program. She has worked at CDC for over 10 years and holds a PhD in social psychology. In this podcast, she discusses her path to global health and her work on vaccines and outbreaks as a Behavioral Scientist, from responding to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to her current work on the COVID-19 response in the US.
Private Payer Telehealth Coverage During the COVID-19 Pandemic (1/20/2021): The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a renewed focus on the United States’ insurance-based health care system. In March 2020, the largest U.S. health insurers announced that they would waive cost-sharing obligations for COVID-19 tests and treatment, including for telehealth visits. In this report, PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy’s staff analyzed coverage policies and bulletins for the largest U.S. private payers and summarized the findings.
Going Viral: Marta Induni Joins Paula Poundstone to Discuss Contact Tracing (1/14/2021): With the surge of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., contact tracing has become vital in stopping COVID-19. Tune in for this episode of Nobody listens to Paula Poundstone, to hear PHI’s Marta Induni discuss PHI’s Tracing Health—one of the earliest contact tracing initiatives in the U.S.—and how the initiative helps support communities that have been most adversely affected.
- Podcast: Vaccine Introduction as a Fellow and Epidemiologist at CDC with Anyie Li, MPH (1/4/2021): In this episode of PHI/CDC’s Global Health Podcast, Fellow Anyie Li, MPH, Epidemiologist and CDC Foundation Field Employee for the Vaccine Introduction Team, within CDC’s Center for Global Health, discusses her first exposure to public health working on the Thailand/Myanmar border with refugees, as well as her current work on the HPV vaccine and COVID-19 response.
- Web Forum Recording: Mental Health First Aid in Schools: Connecting Public Health, Policy, & Equity in COVID-19 (12/15/2020): The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of all age groups. Watch PHI’s Dialogue4Health’s Web Forum recording to hear about lessons learned from the 2020 school year and potential approaches for 2021, how communities, advocates, researchers and policymakers can partner with one another to implement Mental Health First Aid during the pandemic, and evidence-based strategies to improve mental health equity through Mental Health First Aid.
- Communicating about the COVID-19 Vaccines: Guidance and Sample Messages for Public Health Practitioners (12/10/2020): As we get closer to the distribution of vaccines for COVID-19, policymakers and the public are seeking information and voicing questions about their safety and efficacy. Public health practitioners at health departments and elsewhere can play an important role in addressing concerns and building trust to support the equitable rollout of vaccinations. This new resource from PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group contains tips to help public health leaders communicate more clearly and effectively about vaccines.
- Factsheet: Community Development Factsheets: Mental Health, Social Isolation & Homelessness (12/9/2020): Homelessness has become even more prominent during the COVID-19 pandemic. This factsheet, the third in a three-part series, from PHI’s Build Healthy Places Network, dives deep into how community development and health collaborations can address a key social determinant of health, homelessness.
- Podcast: “Is Covid-19 Outpacing Test and Contact Tracing?” (10/26/2020): On this A Shot in the Arm Podcast episode, Dr. Marta Induni of PHI’s Tracing Health program discusses whether COVID-19 testing and contact tracing programs are reaching the people in need, what have we learned, and where we go from here.
Web Forum Recording: Connecting Public Health, Policy, & Equity in COVID-19: An Executive Conversation (10/20/2020): In this Dialogue4Health Web Forum, join PHI President Mary Pittman, IMPAQ President and PHI Board Member Adaeze Enekwechi, and Academy Health President Lisa Simpson to hear how leaders are grappling with issues of health equity during the COVID-19 crisis and where they see opportunities for progress.
- PHI Statement on Updated CDC Testing Guidance (9/18/2020): Statement from Mary A. Pittman, DrPH, CEO and President, Public Health Institute regarding the CDC’s COVID-19 testing guidance revisions.
- Tracking Environmental and Health Disparities to Strengthen Resilience Before the Next Crisis (9/15/2020): COVID-19 has disproportionately affected low-income and communities of color. PHI’s Catalina Garzón-Galvis and Dr. Gina M. Solomon co-authored this article, published online in a special issue of the Environmental Justice Journal on Disparities in Times of a Pandemic or Epidemic, to highlight how environmental community-engaged data collection and reporting can help improve public health tracking to reduce health disparities and strengthen community resilience.
- Community Development Factsheets: Mental Health, Social Isolation & Homelessness (9/9/2020): Mental health, social isolation and homelessness are three of our most insidious social challenges that have been on the rise over recent decades, and have become even more prominent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Created by PHI’s Build Healthy Places Network and NeighborWorks America, this factsheet series explores the important role of community development in addressing these three major health challenges in our country.
- Tips for Communicating about Masks in the Midst of Misinformation (9/3/2020): As mask mandates become more common, local health departments are increasingly seeking ways to overcome the challenges they face in supporting residents in adhering to such mandates. PHI’s Berkeley Media Study Group offers tips to help.
Building trust and equity in contact tracing: Interview with Tracing Health’s Dr. Marta Induni (8/19/2020): PHI’s Tracing Health program was one of the earliest COVID-19 contact tracing initiatives in the country. Dr. Marta Induni, head of Tracing Health, discusses how systemic racism and health inequities contribute to COVID-19 rates among Black and Latinx people, how Tracing Health is addressing these issues, and what success looks like.
Web Forum Recording: Addressing Social Isolation and Long-Term Care through Telehealth During COVID-19 (8/18/2020): The COVID-19 pandemic has left a specific group of people enduring a double pandemic. Older adults, many who already endured social isolation prior to COVID-19, are more alone than ever before. This isolation can lead to increased health risks, including those already living with chronic illnesses. This Web Forum will address the growing issue of social isolation and long-term care in older adults, the many ways providers are working to combat this issue, and the roadblocks of current health management in older adults that have increased due to the shift to telemedicine.
- Interview with Tracing Health’s Dr. Marta Induni: Giving people in contact with COVID-19 the support they need to stay at home (8/3/2020): Contact tracing is a critical tool for suppressing COVID-19, but how much do you know about it? We sat down with Dr. Marta Induni, of PHI’s Tracing Health initiative, who talked about how it works, how they keep information protected, and how they help people stay at home when they need to. “We will liaison with the counties and get them the support they need. They might need that rent assistance or they might need help with grocery delivery or a pharmacy delivery, where someone can just drop something off on their porch. We will help them problem solve.” Read Part 1 of our interview with her, along with video clips.
- Brief: Barriers & Challenges to FQHC Use of Telehealth for Substance Use Disorder | An Examination of Policies Affecting FQHCs Pre- and During the COVID-19 Emergency (7/31/2020): This issue brief from PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy explores the policy changes that need to be made in order for federally qualified health centers to utilize telehealth to address the opioid crisis, and provides a comparison of reimbursement and prescribing policies both prior to and following the onset of the COVID-19 emergency.
- Embedding Equity into Emergency Operations: Strategies for Local Health Departments During COVID-19 & Beyond (7/29/2020): Released by PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California and BARHII, this brief outlines case studies, resources, and priority recommendations that counties and cities can take to explicitly and intentionally embed equity staff and practices into their emergency operations structures and throughout the public health emergency response and recovery process.
- Rise Up Leaders on the Frontlines: A People-Centered Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Africa (7/28/2020): The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to unwind decades of progress made on the economic, social, and development front in Africa. After booming economic growth across the continent, Africa could face its first economic recession in 25 years. The indirect impacts are already being felt, including lack of medical supplies, loss of livelihoods, growing food insecurity, a sudden increase in out-of-school children along with inequitable access to supplementary education, and a rise in political insecurity. In Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Africa, leaders with PHI’s Rise Up are working hard to ensure the voices and wellbeing of women, girls, and youth are not left out of the COVID-19 conversation, that their rights continue to be protected, and the world emerges from this pandemic more just and equal.
PHI CEO Mary Pittman Discusses Public Health’s National Reckoning in Forbes (7/27/2020)
In Forbes, PHI President and CEO Mary A. Pittman discusses our national reckoning on public health—and how it's shaped COVID-19, racial justice and more. Plus, she dives into the systemic health issues being highlighted and exacerbated by the pandemic, and the bright spots where individuals and communities are stepping up with urgency, compassion and solidarity.
- Web Forum Recording: Colliding Crises: Meeting Leadership Challenges of COVID-19 (7/28/2020): The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a new set of roadblocks for overdose prevention. Join PHI’s Dialogue4Health for their first Web Forum in their Colliding Crises series to hear how communities in California, the Northeast, and West Virginia are adapting to work smarter together in this new climate.
- Web Forum Recording: Telehealth in the Workforce: Practical Strategies to Help Prepare Patients and Providers During COVID-19 and Beyond (7/21/2020): In this Web Forum from PHI’s Dialogue4Health, presenters highlight strategies for rapid onboarding of telehealth staff, with a specific focus on critical issues for engaging health care staff in response to COVID-19. Speakers also discuss practical strategies, tips and case studies for organizations to use to improve patient engagement for telemedicine services.
Webinar Recording: Telehealth and the 5G Revolution (7/17/2020): In this Axios webinar, PHI’s Mei Wa Kwong, executive director of PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy, discusses telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, shifts in the use of telemedicine, and future gains from 5G technology.
Defining the ‘New Normal’ and Creating an Equitable Recovery after COVID-19 (7/14/2020): COVID-19 has plunged the country into a crisis, and as the pandemic lays reveals deepest inequities, we continue to face a reckoning with the nation’s legacy of racism. But with every disaster comes an opportunity to chart a different future with new urgency and voices. In this Crosswalk essay published on Medium, PHI’s Build Healthy Places Network explores how leaders in community development and health see the future after the coronavirus.
- Web Forum Recording: Ensuring Health Equity During and Beyond COVID-19: Addressing Housing and Homelessness (7/10/2020): People who are housing insecure or experience homelessness typically have poorer physical and mental health outcomes and are at greater risk for infection during the COVID-19 pandemic. PHI’s Dialogue4Health Web Forum highlights the disproportionate and long-existing economic and health disparities among people who are housing insecure or experience homelessness and what is currently being done to protect this population during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- PHI & Other Leading Health Organizations Urge Support for CDC’s Critical Role in the COVID-19 Pandemic Response (7/7/2020): PHI and nearly 350 other public health organizations urge HHS Secretary Azar to support CDC’s critical role in the COVID-19 pandemic response. See the full letter.
- Communicating about Housing and COVID-19: Tips for Responding to Reporters (7/6/2020): Housing policy is complex—even moreso during COVID-19. Communicating about it can be tricky, especially when you are talking with a reporter. Still, just because you aren’t in full control of the message doesn’t mean you can’t shape the narrative. PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group provides tips to help advocates craft effective messages to shape the narrative around housing and health.
- Rise Up Leaders on the Frontlines in the U.S.: Calling for Change in Our Own Backyard During COVID-19 (7/2/2020): Across the U.S., girls, women, and youth are significantly impacted by but often left out of decisions about our response to crises like COVID-19 and solutions for community safety. In California, Mississippi, and Louisiana, Rise Up Leaders are taking a stand and fighting for the rights and wellbeing of women, girls, and youth. Read insights from Rise Up Leaders in the United States on the effects of the pandemic on their communities and their work to advance gender equity.
- Resources on Communicating about COVID-19 (7/1/2020): PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group is creating and compiling resources to help public health advocates, staff in local health departments, and others communicate more effectively about COVID-19 and how it intersects with other important public health issues. As we develop new resources, we’ll add them to this page.
- Web Forum Recording: Mobilizing Local Cannabis Tax Revenue in the COVID-19 Era (6/29/2020): In the era of COVID-19 when local budgets and staff are being severely cut, and critical social needs go unmet, reasonable local cannabis taxation could provide a much-needed source of revenue. Among the speakers, PHI’s Lynn Silver shared new research on how these products are being taxed and regulated in California’s 539 cities and counties, how to tax cannabis commerce locally, how current cannabis tax revenues are primarily benefitting law enforcement and offers some alternative approaches for capturing revenue to benefit youth and communities and meet local needs.
When the truth becomes the threat: Standing in Support of our Public Health Officials (6/22/2020)
Across the country, local public health officials in charge of COVID-19 policy are facing a double challenge: responsibility for managing the deadly pandemic and a politicization of their work that puts their own lives and the health of their communities at risk.
"Instead of bulletproof vests and security details, our local public health officials deserve the protection and support of those who appointed them, and of those they serve," say Mary Pittman, DrPH, PHI president and CEO; Tracy Delaney, PhD, executive director of PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California; and Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, former Los Angeles County health officer and professor of health policy and management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. "What we need now—from state leadership, from local and state elected officials, from healthcare and from the public—is a clarion call of solidarity, cooperation and concrete support of public health policy."
- Web Forum Recording: Telehealth Policy and Reimbursement Issues in the Era of COVID-19: Perspectives from the US, Scandinavia & France (6/23/2020): Catch the recording of this Dialogue4Health Web Forum, which discusses telemedicine policy regulations and patient/provider reimbursement, featuring case studies from the US, Denmark and France. Presenters include Mei Wa Kwong, director of PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy.
- Video Series on Telehealth & COVID-19 (Updated 6/23/2020): See new videos from PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy addressing the latest updates about the telehealth policies and COVID-19. Topics include CMS COVID-19 Telehealth Policy Updates to Medicare; Providing Services via Telephone during COVID-19; State Telehealth Policy & COVID-19; and more.
- Investing in Our Local Health Departments: How Our Funding Decisions Today Will Determine California’s Future (6/20/2020): Over the past decade alone, local and state health departments lost 20% of their workforce, and local health department budgets shrank by as much as 24%. PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California released a brief Investing In Our Local Health Departments, jam-packed with data, infographics, and key messaging around the history of public health funding cuts and a call to action for investing in a resilient and robust public health system.
- Tool: Tracking COVID-19 Related Telehealth State Actions (6/16/2020): As a result of COVID-19, many states have taken action to temporarily remove policy barriers to telehealth utilization. A new tracking tool from PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy compiles actions taken by each state’s Office of the Governor, Medicaid Program, Medical Board and/or Department of Insurance, and their current status.
- Podcast: Mitigating COVID-19 & Supporting CDC Zambia with Robyn Bernstein, MPH (6/11/2020): PHI/CDC Surveillance Fellow, Robyn Bernstein, MPH, discusses her experience with CDC Zambia’s Division of Global HIV & Tuberculosis. Robyn also elaborates on her time as Strategic Information Coordinator for the COVID-19 International Task Force- Strategic Information Unit Mitigation Team, part of CDC’s Emergency Operations Center.
- Community Development & Health: COVID-19 Response and Resources (6/10/20): PHI’s Build Healthy Places Network curated and reviewed resources from the community development and health sectors, and categorized the best of what they found into several themes, with an emphasis on cross-sector collaboration. These themes reflect the Principles for Building Healthy and Prosperous Communities, which focus on achieving an equitable future where good health and fair opportunity are outcomes for all.
- COVID-19 Equity Snapshots (5/29/2020): Created by PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California, the COVID-19 Equity Snapshot series is designed to help communities address critical equity concerns emerging as a result of the pandemic in real-time. Topics include: Advancing a Welcoming & Inclusive Framework in Response to COVID-19; Advancing Health Justice Strategies to Combat COVID-19; Steps to Advance Racial Equity in Response to COVID-19; Food Security as Equity; Advancing Health Equity for Individuals and Families Experiencing Homelessness; and Using Data to Advance Equity.
- Podcast: Mapping COVID-19 & Building Global Health Capacity with Greg Chang, MPH (5/28/2020): PHI/CDC Surveillance Fellow, Greg Chang, MPH, discusses his experience serving on CDC’s International Epidemiology Team responding to COVID-19 and his work on Population-based HIV Impact Assessments with the Division of Global HIV & Tuberculosis for CDC’s Center for Global Health.
- Resources for SNAP-Ed Implementing Agencies During COVID-19 (5/28/2020): To help SNAP-Ed agencies address the COVID-19 pandemic, PHI’s Center for Wellness and Nutrition provides guidance on ways to continue to support the public and their programs, while prioritizing the safety and health of staff, partners, clients, and community members.
- Web Forum Recording: Lessons Learned: Ramping Up Telehealth Services During COVID-19 (5/26/2020): Serving patients remotely is no longer a matter of convenience, it is imperative for patients and providers alike to provide just in time care in a safe and secure manner. Tune in to hear PHI’s Dialogue4Health and presenters share in-depth practices and policies assembled by an interdisciplinary team of global experts in telehealth and health care delivery, with a specific focus on vulnerable populations like older adults.
- Web Forum Recording: COVID-19 and the Impact on Communities of Color: Our Nation’s Inequities Exposed (5/20/2020): Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, communities of color already faced inequitable opportunities for health and well-being. This Dialogue4Health Web Forum recording highlights the disproportionate impact on communities of color, and the short- and long-term efforts needed to address this impact. There is also a focus on the recent federal legislation and state actions in response to COVID-19.
- Telehealth Policy in a Post-COVID-19 World (5/19/2020): COVID-19 has significantly impacted all aspects of our lives, including access to medical care. Mei Kwong, director of PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy, shares an assessment of which temporary telehealth policy changes are likely to remain in place, and identifies key issues moving forward including reimbursement policies, internet access, HIPAA/privacy concerns and more.
- Web Forum Recording: Mental Health and COVID-19: How the Pandemic Complicates Current Gaps in Care and What Can Be Done (5/6/2020): The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges and aggravated existing obstacles to mental health care and well-being. This Web Forum from PHI’s Dialogue4Health’s discussed the unique challenges for mental health in the wake of COVID-19. Viewers will learn about current advocacy efforts to improve the mental health system, what specialized resources in response to the pandemic have been released to date, and what else may be needed.
- Webinar Recording: Network Commons: Why Investing in Communities Matters More than Ever in the Time of Coronavirus (5/6/2020): View PHI’s Build Healthy Places Network’s webinar recording of a conversation with three inspirational leaders representing the community development, finance and healthcare sectors that are reacting to the COVID-19 crisis. There is also an interactive conversation with audience questions and answers to explore the critical role community development work plays in supporting resilience and healthy communities.
"In planning for recovery, we must call for a new, more just and equitable society, one that centers communities over corporate profit, and that ensures that all people—regardless of race/ethnicity, culture, class, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, or ability—have the full opportunity to achieve optimal health and wellbeing."
- ENACT Day 2020 policy statement from PHI's CA4Health and partners
- Beyond COVID-19 Recovery: Restructuring for a Healthy and Equitable California (5/15/2020): A policy statement from PHI’s CA4Health and other ENACT Day partners identifies four key policy areas for an equitable, inclusive, and community-led response and recovery to the COVID-19 crisis: Healthy food access; healthy and accessible communities; justice for immigrant communities; and preventing violence and trauma.
- PHI Statement on California May Budget Revise (5/14/2020): “Like economies and governments around the globe, the state of California faces hard choices when it comes to protecting the health of its residents in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that has devastated lives, health and the economy,” writes Matthew Marsom, PHI VP of Public Policy and Programs. “One thing is clear: we need more, not less, investment in public health to steer us to the other side of this crisis and avoid dire impacts, particularly within communities of color and low-income Californians.”
- New Tool: Interactive Map Pinpoints Urgent Needs of Vulnerable Populations Through the COVID Crisis (5/12/2020): PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California has released the COVID-19 Healthy Places Index Resource Map, a powerful interactive online tool that exposes how the COVID-19 crisis is exacerbating existing health disparities based on race, poverty, and other socioeconomic and environmental factors.
- Podcast: COVID-19 & the Cruise Ship Task Force with Riley Wagner, MPH (5/6/2020): Tune in to a the first podcast from the PHI/CDC Global Health Program, which features Riley Wagner, MPH as she discusses her experience on CDC’s Emergency Operations Center and elaborates on her work with the Cruise Ship Task Force.
“Solidarity is key in supporting our vulnerable communities—this means coming together out of love for each other and really listening to what our community needs as well as working together to create a safer, healthier, and caring community.”
—Edith Romero, United States (Louisiana), PHI Rise Up Leader
- Rise Up Leaders on the Frontlines of COVID-19 (5/4/2020): PHI’s Rise Up activates women and girls to transform their lives, families and communities for a more just and equitable world. In the first of a new series, Rise Up Leaders from across the globe discuss the effects of COVID-19 on their communities and their work to advance gender equity.
- Tip Sheet: Communicating about Racial Equity and COVID-19: Connecting Data to Context (5/1/2020): Without background knowledge or proper context, when people hear statistics about racial disparities in COVID-19 outcomes, they are likely to attribute the cause to individual behavior. This tip sheet from PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group offers suggestions for incorporating the bigger picture into storytelling to help audiences understand the systemic causes of—and solutions to—inequities.
- COVID-19: Local Health Department Needs in Southern California (4/30/2020): What do local health departments need in order to effectively address COVID-19? New findings from PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California identify increased lab testing and capacity; strategies to pivot from containment to mitigation; dedicated local funding; ways to address racism and xenophobia; communications to communities; guidance on staffing; and multi-sector coordination.
- Telehealth Coverage Policies in the Time of COVID-19 to Date (4/30/2020—3pm PT): The federal administration and major health insurers are updating telehealth technologies, legislation and reimbursement policies to make it easier for communities to monitor, test and prevent the spread of COVID-19. PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy provides a summary of the changes to telehealth covered by Medicare, Medicaid, various public and private payers, as well as state updates. As of 4/30/2020, CCHP has also released an additional fact sheet on Federally Qualified Health Centers & Rural Health Clinics Acting as Distant Site Providers in Medicare.
- Web Forum Recording: ADA National Network Learning Session: COVID19, Health Care, and the ADA (4/23/2020): In this webinar, ADA National Network staff reviewed general health care provisions in the ADA and how they apply to the COVID-19 pandemic such as temporary medical facilities, drive-thru testing sites, and other current health care issues.
- Close Off Some Streets—for the Health of the Public (4/22/2020): Slow streets are regular neighborhood streets that have been closed to through traffic in order to allow residents to “safely walk, wheelchair roll and jog in traffic lanes, as well as on narrow sidewalks, providing enough space to safely socially distance,” write SPUR’s Robert Ogilvie, Public Health Advocates’ Harold Goldstein and PHI’s Mary A. Pittman. “They start to equalize the opportunity to be safely outside for disadvantaged communities that lack parks and other open space.” Read their San Francisco Chronicle op-ed.
Podcast: Public Health on the Line (4/16/2020):Which countries’ public health responseshave worked and which ones have floundered? In this episode of A Shot In the Arm Podcast, made in partnership with the Bay Area Global Health Alliance, Mary Pittman, President and CEO of the Public Health Institute joins Michele Barry, Senior Dean for Global Health &the Director of the Center for Innovation in Global Health at Stanford University to discuss global-to-local impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Together they analyze different epidemic strategies and what the lessons the USA urgently needs to hear.
- A Call to Action: Here is How to Create A Better Post COVID-19 World (4/17/2020): In a world of cascading disasters, Roots of Change is reframing all current projects to deliver one vital thing: models of action that build community-based resilience. This means working with community members to demand processes, plans, projects that include specific recommendations for new and expanded resilience-building policies by governments at all levels. See more of their vision for a better post-COVID-19 world.
- Telehealth Is Grabbing the Pandemic Spotlight. Can California Do More to Help It Grow?: A Q&A with telehealth policy expert Mei Wa Kwong (4/16/2020): Mei Wa Kwong, executive director of the Center for Connected Health Policy at the Public Health Institute, talks to the California Healthcare Foundation about the gaps—and opportunities—for implementing telehealth in California.
- Web Forum Recording: “Protecting Older Adults from the Harms of Social Isolation and Providing a Continuum of Care During COVID-19” (4/15/2020): See the recording from a PHI Dialogue4Health Web Forum with Trust for America’s Health, exploring how to address the unique challenges that older adults face while adhering to public health advice to minimize risk of infection. Learn about the consequences of social isolation, how the aging services sector has adapted its delivery models, and hear about promising practices from the field and the importance of working with public health partners to address the needs of older adults.
- COVID-19, Asthma, and Equity (4/13/2020—Updated): See updates from PHI’s Regional Asthma Management and Prevention (RAMP) program on COVID-19 risk for people with asthma, asthma management, and the disproportionate impact of asthma and the coronavirus on low-income communities and communities of color.
- Make A Mask. Share A Mask. Wear A Mask. (4/10/2020): Utilizing evidence from China and elsewhere we are learning that masks may reduce the viral load if one comes in contact with an infected individual and can reduce transmission if you yourself are infected but asymptomatic. The recent CDC recommendation to use a mask when leaving one’s home for necessities like food seems like good public health advice. PHI encourages everyone to follow CDC recommendations to physically distance themselves by staying at home as a first step, and then to use a mask (even a bandana over your nose and mouth) when exiting your residence to access or perform essential services. Find out how to make your own.
- Webinar Recording: Tenant Protections (4/6/2020): Tenant protections are a core part of RAMP’s work to promote stable and healthy housing, and the coronavirus outbreak has only reinforced the importance of such protections. In partnership with Health Leads’ Bay Area Healthcare for Healthy Communities Learning Initiative (BALI), PHI’s Regional Asthma Management and Prevention hosted a presentation on tenant protections providing an update on new-in-2020 and COVID-specific tenant protection laws and policies.
- Webinar Recording: Virtual Asthma Home Visits (4/3/2020): Given the risks of the coronavirus pandemic and the wide-spread shelter in place orders, asthma home visiting programs are developing new ways to serve people with poorly controlled asthma. PHI’s Regional Asthma Management and Prevention (RAMP) program hosted a webinar to learn more about virtual asthma home visits, share resources, and try to solve challenges related to implementation. The webinar recording is now available, as are the presentation slides and a wide range of other virtual home visiting resources from Children’s National Hospital.
- Web Forum Recording: Combating COVID-19: Why Paid Sick Leave Matters to Controlling its Spread (4/1/2020): Watch the Web Forum recording, hosted by PHI’s Dialogue4Health, which highlights recommendations made in the Ready or Not and Promoting Health and Cost Control in States reports by Trust for America’s Health, on the important role of paid sick leave in combating infectious diseases, as well as other complementary evidence-based policies that can be adopted by federal, state and local governments and by employers.
"If the link between housing and health is not explicit in the news, decision-makers and the public may not prioritize addressing housing needs. At this moment, we must highlight the urgent need to ensure everyone has safe shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic and emphasize that homes are a crucial foundation for a healthy society. "
—Berkeley Media Studies Group
- Talking about Housing, Health, and COVID-19: Keeping Equity at the Forefront (3/25/2020): COVID-19 has brought to the forefront solutions that advocates have long called for—tenant protections, stopping the sweeps of people who are unhoused, and more—as advocates push for additional, urgent ways to ensure people are sheltered during this pandemic. PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group’s guide is focused on shifting the narrative from safety during the pandemic to the importance of treating housing as essential to public health, now and moving forward.
- 19 CA Bridge and MAT for Opioid Use Services National Emergency Response (3/20/2020—noon PT): See new guidance from PHI’s California BRIDGE on how to immediately reduce person-to-person contact when offering Medication Assisted Treatment for opioid use. Protocols aim to slow COVID-19 spread by implementing social distancing into all aspects of care, and to ensure access and availability to medications. Read their press release.
- COVID-19: Addressing Discrimination & Racism (3/17/2020): As both fear and misinformation about COVID-19 continue to grow, health departments and community members are reporting increased incidences of physical, verbal, social and economic discrimination against Asian Pacific Islander communities. A subcommittee of PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California, with input from PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group, developed a set of rapid response guidelines to be considered for implementation by local health departments in order to help actively reject and prevent discrimination and racism, and work to promote the health and safety of all people living in our communities.
- Telehealth Coverage, Technologies, Vital in the Fight Against COVID-19 (3/10/2020): As things rapidly develop on what we know about COVID-19, policies around telehealth have also been developing alongside of it. Mei Wa Kwong, director of PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy, provides a critical overview of the telehealth updates from the federal administration and major health insurers, explores what they mean, and explains how existing state policies on telehealth may be interpreted in an emergency.
How we’re working: COVID-19
When public health is working best, we rarely see it working. We just see people breathing clean air, accessing affordable health care and living in affordable housing. And in this moment, in many communities around the world, public health means staying put and scaling back in order to care for each other and protect our most vulnerable community members and institutions from COVID-19.
During this emergency, the Public Health Institute will still be working, hard. We are already adjusting how we work, but we are dedicated to making sure that our efforts to build power, connection, infrastructure and health won’t stop. Here’s how.
We’ll be working remotely.
Our physical offices in Oakland, Sacramento and DC are currently closed. We have adjusted our operations to support remote work for the majority of our staff and programs. Phones and emails are being checked regularly and forwarded to relevant staff. The best way to reach us for general information is 510.285.5500. The Public Health Institute and its programs are continuing to review and share emerging science, best-practices and policy shifts that may affect how our communities, healthcare and public health systems, insurers and providers respond to and manage the COVID-19 pandemic.
We’ll be collaborating and convening.
One of the things that PHI does best is to bring people together. Our Dialogue4Health platform has hosted hundreds of Web Forums for tens of thousands of health and public health professionals over the last decade. We’ll be leveraging that expertise to help each other, deepen our program work, and help you connect to each other and the people who need to hear about your work.
We’ll be sharing evidence and best practices.
This is the time for PHI to redouble our efforts to communicate the best information to those seeking a trusted and reliable source. We will continue to share emerging science, best-practices and policy shifts related to COVID-19. And, because COVID-19 may intensify other gaps in our public health systems and infrastructure, we will also continue to share other important public health news, research and policies. For official information on COVID-19, please consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WHO.
We look forward to continuing to connect with you and to serve our programs and communities around the world.