Bernadette Boden-Albala, MPH, DrPH
Director and Founding Dean
                 
In light of the rapidly rising cases of COVID-19 across the country and the widespread, politically-motivated harassment and firing of public health officials, I write today to voice support for the scientific community as it faces these unprecedented challenges.
 
The movement to reject science and vilify our public health leaders continues to wreak havoc on the very institutions created to protect us during times of crisis. As we have seen since the start of the pandemic, public health leadership has been undermined and minimized by people that oppose the informed, evidence-based decisions of practitioners. In advocating for simple measures designed to save lives and reduce risk (like mask-wearing and physical distancing), public health practitioners on the frontlines of pandemic response have become targets for ad hominem attacks, harassment, and in some cases, threats against their lives.
At least 49 state and local public health leaders have resigned, retired, or been fired since April across 23 states. We have lost critical leaders at the very time that we need public health leadership to emerge.  Public health, as an evidence-based science, often has to make tough, stringent recommendations to preserve the health and wellbeing of our communities. 
 
This election will decide, in some ways, whether public health carries on as a respected science or whether the deterioration of scientific work and practice will continue. This isn’t merely a political issue, nor is it solely a fight to preserve science as the reputable, truth-bearing field that it has been in times past. This issue, at its core, is about the distortion of facts and reality.
 
A global pandemic should bring public health to the forefront of change. And while it is an exercise in democracy to question leadership and voice our opinions when we feel it must be improved, the rejection of facts and evidence-based approaches has had a profound impact on the health of our nation and the global burden of disease. Public health is at a crossroads and this election will set the future into play.
 

We stand with the scientific community. We stand with the researchers, public health officials, and front-line healthcare professionals that work tirelessly to save lives and protect the American public from the threats of the global pandemic.
 
As we prepare for Election Day on November 3, we encourage all members of the UCI Public Health community to vote and attend campus events like Thursday’s virtual panel discussion:
The Impact of the Election on Social Justice and Public Health. We look forward to seeing you there!
What is Public Health Voices? Public Health Voices is a spotlight on our diverse students and current events or issues that are important to them. Each month, we will feature a piece written by one of our students.
Shantell Cerise Nolen
PhD Student, Department of Epidemiology

 

COVID-19 disproportionately impacts black and brown communities of color. But are we really surprised? The United States is no stranger to structural health inequity. And while I could write this article to discuss the intersection of public health and Black Lives Matter, I feel compelled to amplify the voices of a different community. Three months ago, I embarked on a road trip from California to Rhode Island. In between my many adventures, I’d been confronted by the harsh realities facing Indigenous people specifically.

In Nevada, I went cliff diving with four teenage boys and their grandfather. Their family is a part of a local tribe. They were eager to have a conversation about the Indian Health Service (IHS), a federal health program for American Indians and Alaska Natives that is both underfunded and under-resourced, leaving high rates of already immunocompromised people vulnerable to COVID-19 due to limited services.


Many tribes do not even qualify for IHS assistance. A friend of mine is an activist for Indigenous students at UCI and their family is one of many tribes who have been disqualified from IHS services due to government technicalities. Forced to work through the pandemic to secure proper health insurance, their family has endured unimaginable personal loss. Circumstances like these continue to fracture Indigenous communities’ connections to their homelands and have widened the healthcare racial gap. Similar technicalities have burdened black communities for over a century, dating back to the creation of the Freedman Hospitals.

As we know, public health regulations vary from state to state. Throughout my journey spanning 15 states, I ranked grocery stores and park services from 1-10 based on how well they’ve responded to the pandemic. I also looked at COVID-19 response at IHS and learned that some reservations have closed their borders to self-quarantine. This is the case for the BlackFeet Nation in Glacier National Park. I spent 4 days there and the area is closed to the public. What sounds like a good idea actually comes at a huge cost to public health as tourism sustains the local economy, supporting health, education, and public safety. Without these funds, tribes risk going without access to water or electricity. In speaking with my friend from UCI, I learned that the local tribes who manage Antelope Canyon and the crystal walk in the Grand Canyon have risked their health during the pandemic to maintain financial stability.

Visibility is a powerful thing. It sparks important conversations. While out for a swim in Bemidji, Minnesota, I met a park ranger who told me about the Indigenous Impacts Project, a collection of writing and art by Indigenous people in South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota that highlights their experiences with COVID-19. We must listen and learn from the people in the communities themselves.

COVID-19 will end and news cycles will change, but we must not forget that long-term effects from the virus can exacerbate health disparities for Indigenous people. Public health needs funding and forward-thinking programs to bridge these racial gaps. The world will continue to be rocked by unexpected health crises -- a testament to centuries of American history. How we prepare for and respond to these circumstances is up to us, as well as supporting the populations that are hit hardest.

Next Month's Guest Contributor:
Kelli Malott
PhD student, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health
actOC is now available as a pre-print article on MedRxiv -- read it in full here! Studies like actOC that aim to discover the true prevalence of viruses like SARS-CoV-2 are key in informing response and public policy. This surveillance study, which tested a representative sample of 3,000 Orange County residents for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, found that seroprevalence was seven-fold greater than that using official County statistics and that the virus disproportionately affects Hispanic and low-income adults.
 
Take the Call: UCI Contact Tracing Program
One of the key components of UCI’s COVID-19 response program is contact tracing. UCI has entered into an agreement with the Orange County Health Care Agency to authorize UCI to conduct contact tracing specific to the UCI community. Campus leadership has supported this effort by issuing an executive directive.

In order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on campus, it will be crucial for students, staff, and faculty to “take the call” from the contact tracing program and be honest and complete in responding to the interview questions. If you are called by a contact tracer, the number that will appear on your phone is (949) 824-2300. Please take the call.
Have questions about COVID-19?

The Program in Public Health COVID-19 Chatline is available for general questions and inquiries. The chatline is staffed Monday-Friday from 9:00AM-6:00PM PST and Saturday-Sunday from 12:00PM-4:00PM PT.
10/22/20: How the coronavirus pandemic could end (Andrew Noymer)
Anteater Insider Live: Episode 3 | UCI's COVID-19 Case Reporting Process and Contact Tracing Plan
ft. David M. Souleles, MPH, Director, COVID-19 Response Team

In this special episode of Anteater Insider Live, David M. Souleles describes how the contact tracing process unfolds after a COVID-19 case is reported. Watch the full episode here.

The Impact of the Election on Social Justice and Public Health

Thursday, Oct. 29 // 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Please join us for an engaging virtual panel discussion on the upcoming election's impacts on an array of topics from social justice, community safety, and free speech to reproductive health policy and public health. This event is open to all UCI students.

RSVP
2020 Arnold O. Beckman Family Annual Science Lecture: Who will be at the forefront of the next pandemic? One Health Workforce Academy for the Next Generation

Wednesday, Nov. 11 // 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.

Register today to attend this year's Arnold O. Beckman Family Annual Science Lecture featuring our very own Dr. Oladele Ogunseitan, Director of Training and Empowerment for USAID's One Health Workforce, Next Generation project, and Director of the Education for UC Global Health Institute. Registration prices vary; see more here.

RSVP
The Science of COVID-19: The Progression of the Pandemic in Orange County

Friday, Nov. 13 // 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc all over the world, causing serious chronic illnesses, and in some cases death. It has caused hospitals to become overrun, business to shut down, and schools to have to re-think learning. What is this microscopic organism that has caused such mayhem in Orange County and across the world? This event -- featuring our very own Dean Bernadette Boden-Albala and Dr. Andrew Noymer --  is brought to you by the Orange County Bar Association.

RSVP

Town Hall for Health and Wellness

Friday, Nov. 13 // 3:00 - 4:00 p.m.

On behalf of the Vice Provost and Dean's Office, you are invited to a Town Hall for Health and Wellness featuring our very own David M. Souleles, COVID-19 Response Team Director, Scott Bartell, Associate Dean and Professor of Public Health, and Sharon Robert, Director of Program Development. Topics of discussion include contact tracing, health and wellness. Zoom login info will be shared in advance of the event.

Dr. Karen Edwards co-authors a piece in Frontiers describing mobility and sensorimotor inhibition impairments in Parkinson's disease (PD). In this study, Karen and team investigate the affects of apolipoprotein (APOE) ε4 allele and glucocerebrosidase (GBA) on sensorimotor inhibition among healthy older adults (OA) and PD cohorts. The research team also examine whether the relationship between sensorimotor inhibition and mobility differs in genetic sub-groups of PD. The study found that APOE and GBA genetic status did not affect sensorimotor inhibition or mobility impairments in this PD cohort, however, impaired sensorimotor inhibition had a larger effect on mobility in people with PD than OA and affected different domains of mobility depending on genetic status.


Phongpreecha, T., Cholerton, B., Mata, I., Zabetian, C., Poston, K., Aghaeepour, N., Quinn, J., Chung, K., Hiller, A., Hu, S., Edwards, K., Montine, T. (2020, Aug. 25). Multivariate prediction of dementia in Parkinson's disease. Nature Research Journals.

In this article, Dr. Karen Edwards and team use robust multivariate approaches to identify those at risk for cognitive decline by looking at associations between biological, clinical, and cognitive factors. Data collected from a large PD cohor revealed the primary biological factors associated with cognitive status and progression to dementia as age, disease duration, sex, and GBA status.

Dr. Michael Hoyt co-authors a paper examining the impact of experimentally-induced worry and relaxation on cortisol, heart rate variability (HRB), and inflammation. Findings from this study offer novel insight into how worry influences the immune system and emphasize the utility of a multi-methods approach to understanding the impact of worry on physical health.
Roxanna Todd Hodges Lectureship on Stroke Prevention and Education

Congratulations to Dean Bernadette Boden-Albala for receiving the Roxanna Todd Hodges Lectureship on Stroke Prevention and Education for her contributions to reducing disparities in stroke awareness, care, and outcomes. Awarded by the University of Southern California's Division of Neurocritical Care and Stroke at the Keck School of Medicine through a donation from the Roxanna Todd Hodges Foundation, the lectureship engages world-renowned stroke experts in the areas of research and prevention.

NASA

With funding from NASA, Dr. Lisa Grant Ludwig is using research on natural disasters and disaster response to help develop data analysis tools for emergency responders to assess disaster impacts. Read more about this project here and view Dr. Ludwig's recent presentation on the topic here.

National Cancer Institute

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Michael Hoyt for receiving a National Cancer Institute grant for his study A Randomized Controlled Trial of Emotion Regulation Therapy for Cancer Caregivers: A Mechanism-Targeted Approach to Addressing Caregiver Distress. Results from this study will advance the science of informal caregivers (IC) intervention research by addressing a critical gap in our field's ability to powerfully, quickly, and effectively address IC anxiety and depression.
Welcome!

Alyssa Limfueco

Residency Coordinator/Administrative Assistant III
Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH) and Department of Environmental and Occupational Health (OEH)

Please join us in welcoming Alyssa Limfueco to PPH! Alyssa has worked for UCI for over 5 years. Her most recent employment was with Gavin Herbert Eye Institute in the Department of Ophthalmology as a Principal Intake Worker. She is a UCI Alumni with a Bachelor’s of Science in Public Health Sciences.
 
Alyssa will be working closely with Dr. Khan to support the activities of the Residency Program. She will also provide administrative support to the leadership of the COEH, OEM and EOH and serve as the primary contact for Travel Reimbursement and Disbursement Vouchers (Personal). She will also serve as our event coordinator and maintaining conference and course room schedules as well as and other administrative support.


Special Thanks

On October 6, Public Health Alumni Chapter board members and alumni volunteers hosted a workshop for 40 undergraduate students. Breakout sessions included grad school application tips, mock interviews, and resume reviews. Advice was share and fun was had by all! Thank you alumni for sharing your time and knowledge with our students!

Margaret Whitley

Congratulations to PhD student Margaret Whitley who is receiving an NIOSH fellowship: SCERC Targeted Research Training Fellowship Program in Occupational Health with emphasis on Work Organization and Stress-related Disorders!

Facebook
Twitter
Link
LinkedIn
Website
Copyright © 2020 UC Irvine Public Health. All rights reserved

Our mailing address is:
3080 Anteater Instruction and Research Building
653 E. Peltason Drive
Irvine, CA 92697-3957