Today kicks off the 25th annual National Public Health Week!

Each year the American Public Health Association (APHA) recognizes the contributions of public health and highlights issues important to improving the nation’s health. Together, we can build healthy neighborhoods, healthy communities, and ultimately a healthy country. This year’s National Public Health Week—Looking Back, Moving Forward—is especially important as the globe grapples with COVID-19.

National Public Health Week works to improve the nation’s health by focusing on a different public health topic every day of the week but COVID-19 has thrown a curveball for this year’s celebrations. Although events are being canceled and postponed, the APHA has made it easy to work on improving public health while practicing safe social distancing.

Even though the daily themes for National Public Health Week were planned long before the coronavirus, you can still apply the daily themes to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monday – Mental Health

“advocate for and promote emotional well-being”

Nearly everyone is feeling heightened levels of stress at this time and separation isn’t making it easier. It’s just as important to take care of your mental health as it is to wash your hands. Individuals working in health care sectors are bearing a heavy burden as they work to keep our communities safe. Staying connected digitally with loved ones and collogues, limiting our news intake, and getting reputable and accurate information (from the CDC, WHO, or local health authorities) are all ways you can manage anxiety in these stressful times. 

Tuesday – Maternal and Child Health

“ensure the health of mothers and babies throughout the lifespan”

Although COVID-19 does not seem to be a higher threat for pregnant women and young children, they are still considered to be in the “at-risk populations.” Learn more about how children and families can stay healthy and check out the American Academy of Pediatrics 2019 Novel Coronavirus page.

Wednesday – Violence Prevention

“reduce personal and community violence to improve health”

Higher stress can lead to increased aggression and according to APHA, can feed a cycle of violence. Make sure you are getting accurate information from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, the CDC, and the World Health Organization.

Thursday – Environmental Health

“help protect and maintain a healthy planet”

The environment is one of few things that have actually improved since the pandemic began. Air pollution has dropped dramatically, and certain parts of the world are seeing clear water for the first time in a long time. During the outbreak, the APHA recommends staying vigilant on recycling plastics and if you’re sick, double-bag soiled items and dispose of them in secured containers (with a lid). 

Friday – Education

“advocate for quality education and schools”

Students across the country are having to attend school virtually. Distance learning, online classes and online classes have become the new norm for most schools and the transition can be difficult. If you can, reach out to your local district and inquire about volunteer opportunities to distribute meals or otherwise support the school during COVID-19.

Saturday – Healthy Housing

“ensure access to affordable and safe housing”

Make sure your family and your home are protected from a potential outbreak! Take preventative measures and regularly disinfect commonly touched surfaces, especially if someone in your home is sick. Try to stay up to date with accurate information about COVID-19 in your local area and consider asking your neighbors how they are preparing their home.

Sunday – Economics

“advocate for economic empowerment as the key to a healthy life”

All workers should have access to health insurance, and something about family medical leave. For employers, it’s important to have supporting policies that help families and employees in these uncertain times. The CDC recommends identifying a workplace coordinator who will be responsible for COVID-19 issues and their impact at the workplace. This includes ensuring human resource policies are consistent with current public health recommendations, drafting emergency sick leave policies, and implementing flexible policies that allow employees to stay home. 

This year we also would like to show appreciation for all public health professionals fighting COVID-19, protecting and serving their communities, and helping the most vulnerable. Want to join this week’s activities? Sign up for virtual events, join the April 8 Twitter Chat, and remember the work of public health never stops.

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