Each year, the first full week of April is recognized as National Public Health Week. The National Public Health Conference is being held virtually all week with the theme of “Building Bridges to Better Health”. The Public Health Conference of Iowa is also taking place this week and offers the opportunity for public health professionals from across the state to connect on issues facing Iowans.
Both conferences will highlight the incredible contribution of public health workers over the past year, honor their work on the front lines and the importance of investing in this critically essential work force. As a lead agency for the state’s COVID-19 response, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has focused significant portion of the agency’s staff and resources toward ensuring testing capacity, supporting contact tracing, data accuracy and transparency, and vaccine deployment.
The work of responding to the pandemic has not been an isolated endeavor. IDPH is incredibly grateful for new and existing partnerships at the federal, state and county level as well as the business community throughout the state.
“What we will carry forward from this experience are partnerships we’ve forged and our commitment to addressing gaps in health and human service delivery. These gaps underscore the need for strategic investment in our systems that better ensures Iowans have equitable access to resources. I want to sincerely thank the public health workforce throughout the state who have worked tirelessly this past year to keep Iowans safe,” said Kelly Garcia, IDPH interim director.
In addition to a sustained focus on COVID-19 pandemic response, IDPH serves Iowans through programs for infectious disease investigation and mitigation as well as oversight for a wide variety of public health activities in Iowa, including substance use disorder prevention and treatment, emergency medical services, maternal and child health, health promotion and chronic disease prevention, tobacco use prevention and control and environmental health.
Beginning today, all Iowans over the age of 16 are eligible to receive vaccine and over 600,000 Iowans are fully vaccinated. Still, it remains important for Iowans to continue practicing the mitigation measures that can slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Those who have not been vaccinated should continue to:
- Wear a mask or face covering
- Practice social distancing with those outside your household
- Clean your hands frequently with soap and water
- Stay home if you feel sick
- Get tested if you are exposed to, or have symptoms of COVID-19
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available to you