EH and COVID-19 Roundup: Back to School Resources, Wastewater Surveillance Webinar from the Houston Health Department, and More

Jul 21, 2021

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) has been releasing regular blogs consisting of an up-to-date collection of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) resources for our members working at the intersection of environmental health and COVID-19. See past resource roundups here.

Updates from NACCHO

Attention Midwestern Local Health Departments: New Federal Program Provides Free COVID-19 Testing for K-8 Schools and Congregate Settings
A new federal COVID-19 testing program offered by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is prioritizing K-8 and public and private schools, underserved populations, and non-healthcare congregate settings such as homeless shelters. Battelle was selected to manage the Midwest Expanded Testing Coordination Hub, and NACCHO is supporting the project to ensure that local health departments (LHDs) are engaged in testing implementation. Please check out our blog post for more information about the program, see if you’re in an eligible state, and find out how to be connected to the implementation team in your jurisdiction.

Webinar: CDC Federal Snapshot: K-12 Guidance Update
On July 9, CDC released updated Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools as well as their COVID-19 Guidance for Operating Early Care and Education/Child Care Programs. To support this guidance, the Science Brief has been updated as well to include the evidence behind these recommendations. Join NACCHO on Tuesday, July 27, 3:00-4:00 pm ET where we will hear from CDC on these new updates. This snapshot will provide a rapid report out of information and allow attendees to ask questions directly to the speakers. This webinar is open to all members of local health departments as well as other community partners who are interested in this topic. Only registered participants will be able to join. Register here.

Back to School Edition! Refer to our Environmental Health and COVID-19 Resource Library
Our free resource library now includes many new tools and resources to help local health departments combat COVID-19 in their communities, especially as schools prepare to reopen in the fall. For instance, head to the library to hear from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about strategies for operating and maintaining efficient HVAC systems to provide clean and healthy air in schools.

Please complete our NACCHO pulse check on local vector programs!
Throughout this pandemic, NACCHO has gathered information on how the pandemic was affecting local vector surveillance and control activities. LHDs, please consider taking a few minutes to complete this pulse check regarding any continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on local vector program activities. Access the survey.

Continue to Share COVID-19 Lessons Learned with Other Local Health Departments
One of the central themes of this year’s NACCHO 360 conference has been lessons learned from the COVID-19 and ways to improve the ongoing response. In the “Return to Schools” roundtable, Dr. Christopher K. Orlea, the Chief Experience Officer at AM Trace, asked all of the panelists what they would want to share with other attendees. NACCHO has developed a form that allows LHDs to share lessons learned from the pandemic. Access the form.

From the CDC Foundation

City of Houston Wastewater Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2--Interpretation and Use in Public Health Intervention: Early in 2020, Houston Health Department (HHD) worked with leading researchers at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine to establish a wastewater surveillance program for SARS-CoV-2. The information gleaned from this program is critical to the city’s management of the pandemic. Sponsored by the CDC Foundation, HHD and Rice University experts will offer three opportunities to learn details of their surveillance program.

The following zoom meeting information holds for all three seminars:

Join Zoom Meeting: https://riceuniversity.zoom.us/j/7185583212?pwd=WHhZV2l4bGhoaC81OFpzUFlHS0pJZz09

Meeting ID: 718 558 3212

Passcode: wwoffhrs

  • July 29, 2021 11:00 am to 12:00 pm CST- Establishing and Maintaining a Robust Wastewater Surveillance System for SARS CoV-2: Dr. Lauren Stadler (Rice) and Lilian Mojica (HHD) will discuss and answer questions about the resources required to set up and maintain an active city-wide wastewater monitoring program based on their experiences in Houston, TX. An overview of the personnel and equipment involved, sampling locations and frequency, different types of sample analyses, and types of information generated will be covered. They will discuss approaches used to measure viral loads/levels and screen for variants of concern in wastewater samples.
  • August 19, 2021 11:00 am to 12:00 pm CST- Turning Measurements into Action: The Statistical Methods Behind our Wastewater Surveillance: Dr. Katherine Ensor (Rice) will discuss and answer questions about the statistical methods used for SARS CoV-2 wastewater surveillance in Houston. Surveillance spans 60 weeks with samples from upwards of 100 wastewater treatment plants, manholes and lift stations. Further, samples are analyzed at multiple labs. How to estimate the viral extent across the city and communicate the findings is the topic of this seminar—with ample time allotted for Q&A.
  • September 16, 2021 11:00 am to 12:00 pm CST-Using Wastewater Surveillance to Inform Public Health Interventions: Dr. Loren Hopkins (HHD and Rice) will discuss and answer questions about the how the Houston Health Department interprets and disseminates findings to leadership to inform public health interventions.

From the Public Health Communications Collaborative

Webinar - COVID-19 and Return to In-Person Learning: Communicating with Key Constituents

Date and Time: Wednesday, July 21, 2021, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM ET/ 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM PT

Join the Public Health Communications Collaborative for a free webinar focused on effective messaging to communicate with families, teachers, and school officials in preparation for a safe and comfortable return to the classroom. Representing different local scenarios and constituencies, our three panelists will share insights and answer your questions.

Featured speakers:

  • Dave A. Chokshi, MD, MSc, FACP, Commissioner of Health of the City of New York
  • Anne Zink, MD, FACEP, Chief Medical Officer, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, and President-Elect, ASTHO
  • Daaiyah Bilal-Threats, Special Assistant to the Executive Director and Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives, National Education Association

From Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO)

APPLETREE COVID-19 Supplemental Project Presentations: Part 1

In early 2021, ASTHO, with support from CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, provided funding and assistance to five state health agencies (or their partners) to support environmental health-related COVID-19 response activities. Examples of activities performed under these awards include performing COVID-19 consultations during standard on-site restaurant inspections and informing schools and early care and education programs about effective, safe COVID-19 mitigation protocols.

On July 26 from 3-4 PM EDT, ASTHO will host part one of a two-part webinar series on the state projects completed under this award. This session will feature presentations from project staff at the Arkansas Department of Health, Kentucky Department for Public Health, and Vermont Department of Health’s partner, Informed Green Solutions. Each representative will provide an overview of their state’s project under these awards, as well as challenges, successes, and lessons learned from undertaking this work. The registration link for the webinar is available here.


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