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We Are Public Health: 2021 and COVID-19

by Lisa Vasquez, NHPHA Communications Committee Chair

Finally, 2020 is gone, and here we are on the other side in 2021, yet still dealing with COVID-19. Recently we have seen a substantial increase in cases due to holiday gatherings. The number of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths has increased. Public health professionals are expecting numbers to continue increasing after the holidays. Vaccines have arrived with anticipation by some and trepidation by others.

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We Are Public Health: Public Health and Equity

by Lisa Vasquez, NHPHA Communications Committee Chair

There has been much conversation this year surrounding equity, especially when it comes to public health. COVID-19 has highlighted many of the issues of inequity that may not have been as visible before. When public health professionals talk about health equity, they mean achieving that every person has the opportunity to attain their full health potential (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). There are so many barriers for many people to achieve their full health potential, be it poverty, lack of access to health care, lack of access to healthy foods, or lack of access to a healthy home among other barriers. When we look at COVID-19, we see that people of color and those in a lower socioeconomic status are disproportionally impacted by COVID-19. When we look at why this is happening, we see that many people in these populations may live in multigenerational homes and have essential jobs where they are unable to work from home. We know that unemployment is at a high rate, which means people that many people who may have had access to health insurance in the past through their employer may not currently have access. We also know that mental health affects our physical health. COVID-19-related stress and anxiety are high, and if we add holiday stress, it just compounds the stress and anxiety levels people are feeling.

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Alcohol Consumption During the Holidays

by Lisa Vasquez, NHPHA Communications Committee Chair

Holidays can be stressful, especially this year with all the COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions to keep in mind. Many people increase their alcohol consumption from Thanksgiving to New Year’s for many reasons. People may binge drink without thinking about it, because they are on vacation, because it’s the holidays, because they are with family and friends, or because they are stressed over holiday travel or financial reasons. Binge drinking can be just as dangerous during the holidays as it is any other time of year. NHPHA wants everyone to have a happy and healthy holiday season, so please plan ahead to help you manage the anxiety of holiday preparations and keep a few things in mind:

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It's National Diabetes Month

by Nicole Viau, Health Promotion & Communication Specialist, City of Nashua Division of Public Health & Community Services

November is National Diabetes Month, a time when communities across the country team up to bring attention to diabetes. This year’s focus is on taking care of youth who have diabetes. Diabetes is one of the most common chronic conditions in school-age youth in the United States, affecting about 193,000 youth under 20 years old. Regardless of their age, sometimes youth who have diabetes need support with their diabetes care. That’s why it’s important to help your child or teen develop a plan to manage diabetes, and work with their health care team to adjust the diabetes self-care plan as needed. We encourage you to visit the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) for more information.

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Preventing Youth Drug and Alcohol Use

by Lisa Vasquez, NHPHA Communications Committee Chair

There’s no better time than today for youth drug prevention. We are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. It can feel overwhelming to spend more time at home with your loved ones. How do you manage remote learning, working from home, and keeping the peace and sanity of your home? For many people during this time, alcohol has been what they have sought out to cope with the changes brought on by the pandemic, but that does create problems as well. According to the New Hampshire Liquor Commission, sales of alcohol jumped 13.51%, or $17.3 million, from March 1 to May 13, compared to the same time period last year. This can translate to youth watching their parents use alcohol as a means of coping with stress. It can also translate to more access to alcohol for minors. What can you do to practice prevention messaging at home? Here are some tips: 

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Local COVID-19 Response

by Lisa Vasquez, NHPHA Communications Committee Chair

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that has grown to pandemic proportions and has impacted most of the world. The response to the pandemic can change from one area to another depending on how each area has been impacted. We have seen rises and decreases in different areas of the country at differing times. New Hampshire is no different from the rest of the country. We can see different areas having higher instances of infections than others. For example, Coos County has seen a lower number of infections in comparison to Hillsborough County. Population density seems to play a large factor in the propagation of the infection. Therefore, the response of Coos County will not be the same as Hillsborough County. Hillsborough County is the most populous county in New Hampshire with the two largest cities located within. These two cities, Nashua and Manchester, each have a local health department. The rest of the state is served by the state health department.

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National Public Health Week 2020 Is Approaching!

by Lisa Vasquez, Co-Chair, NHPHA Communications Committee

In the first full week of April, we celebrate National Public Health Week (NPHW)! This year is extra special because it’s the 25th anniversary of NPHW. This 25th anniversary is an opportunity to highlight some of the greatest public health successes and to celebrate what makes public health so vital. It’s also a time to reflect on important lessons learned and missed chances to improve health for all. In New Hampshire, we hope that your agency will join us in celebrating National Public Health Week. Let us know what you are doing this year to celebrate it!

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We Are Public Health

written by Lisa Vasquez, Communications Committee Co-Chair

When I tell people I work in a local health department, they have so many questions and preconceived notions of what I actually do. Many think I am a nurse, for who else works in public health? Others have questions about what does someone in public health actually do. Others wonder why public health is needed if people can just visit their primary care provider. Here are some things you should know about public health. Public health is comprised of many professions, and all are needed and valuable. In New Hampshire, we have the state’s Department of Health and Human Services and their Division of Public Health Services, which acts as the state’s public health department. We also have two local public health departments, one in Manchester and one in Nashua. In areas where there is no local public health department, a system has been devised to be able to offer public health services throughout the state. This is done through public health networks. There are 13 public health networks throughout New Hampshire; visit https://nhphn.org for more information. These networks are tasked with providing public health functions within a geographical area. But what are public health functions and services? Public health is tasked with 10 essential core functions:

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