Labor Day is a national holiday to recognize and honor the American labor movement and the contributions of organizers and laborers to the development and achievements of the United States. Today, one out of every ten workers in the U.S. is a member of a labor union. Labor unions not only advocate for healthy and safe work environments; they improve the lives and promote the health of workers, their families, the community, and public health.

The labor movement has led the charge to protect working people from workplace injury, illness, and death since the Industrial Revolution. Unions in the United States have historically promoted and fought for healthy working conditions, safety and wellness programs, medical insurance, and democratic participation with support from organizations such as the American Public Health Association. Both labor unions and public health organizations intervene in the conditions that make people healthy through socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental conditions as well as individual choices, social and community networks.

Union workers are

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It is the time of year when parents and students of all ages begin preparing to go back to school.  They will be exposed to new experiences and ideas, but also higher stress and risk of exposure to viruses — including the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and the proliferating variants. 

The ongoing pandemic has added challenges to every facet of life, including navigating classrooms. Returning to school has taken on new meaning and a new set of worries for students, parents, caregivers, and teachers. The decision on what classes and learning looks like is usually made on the local level by school boards and government officials. Overall, schools choose from one of three models:

  • Distance learning. All instruction is done remotely using technology and other tools.
  • In-person schooling. Similar to traditional schooling with enhanced health and safety precautions and procedures, but risks infection for students/teachers/their families.
  • Hybrid schooling. This model includes elements of both distance and in-person schooling.

Schools may adopt one or more models over the course of the school year and still-evolving pandemic. Being prepared for a variety of learning environments can empower you and/or your child/student and reduce any additional anxiety. In each case, there are steps you can take to reduce the risks of COVID-19, help your student feel safe, and make informed decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Get vaccinated. All adults and children over 12 years old currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccines should get fully immunized by the start of school year. People are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine such as Johnson & Johnson’s.
  • Wear face masks. Everyone over 2 years old should wear face masks that cover the nose and mouth. This is a simple, proven tool to protect students and teachers indoors — even if they’ve been vaccinated.
  • Monitor health. Be aware of any symptoms you may have, stay home if you are sick, get tested, and notify the school if you are at risk of exposure/infection.

Regardless

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Photo by Dakota Roos

Summer has arrived in the United States. Over the following months, it will be important to protect ourselves from the health risks posed by the sun and heat. Regardless of skin color, exposure to the sun carries many dangers to one’s skin — from wrinkles often associated with aging to freckles, sunburns, benign tumors, or cancerous skin lesions. Exposure to heat can also have many negative impacts on one’s health ranging from a rash, exhaustion, fainting, or even death. During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, being in crowded areas with unvaccinated people — even outside — without appropriate protection measures can pose health risks to those around them.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourages everyone — especially those with pale skin; blond, red, or light brown hair; or who has a personal or family history of skin cancer — to practice care while in the sun. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage skin in as little as 15 minutes, and

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In 2020, there were 19,402 people killed with guns in the United States — not including 24,156 suicides. This is an increase of 25% more homicide victims killed with guns than the previous year and is the highest death toll since gun mortality data was first recorded in 1979. Mass shootings, incidents where four or more people are shot, increased nearly 50% year over year.

Gun violence is a public health crisis in the United States. The price of lives lost and the consequences for the victims’ loved ones and communities is truly immeasurable. The economic cost, however, can be measured: $229 billion every year; $12.8 million every day. These costs include medical treatment, long-term medical and disability expenses, mental health care, emergency services, legal fees, long-term prison costs, police investigations, and security enhancements. Even students and teachers who participate in active shooter drills can experience profound mental or emotional distress.

Gun violence is a unique problem to the United States among nations not in open warfare or deeply corrupted by criminal organizations.

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CONTENT WARNING: This blog discusses rape and other forms of sexual violence.

Over recent years, the #MeToo movement has grown to bring sexual violence, abuse, and toxic behavior into awareness within American culture, but there is still much misinformation and stigma to combat to ensure the health and safety of everyone affected. Rape is the most under-reported crime with only 36% of rapes, 34% of attempted rapes, and 26% of sexual assaults reported to law enforcement. Despite misconceptions, the prevalence of false reporting is low — between 2-7%. The consequences of sexual assault reach far into the lives of survivors, families, and communities and have a major effect on public health.

Victims of sexual harassment and assault are often thought of as women, but men can also be affected. Statistically, one in five women and one in 67 men are raped at some point in their lives. Nearly 50% of women and 20% of men experience sexual violence other than rape.

LGBTQIA communities are disproportionately affected by sexual violence:

  • 44% of lesbians and 61% of bisexual women compared to 35% of heterosexual women;
  • 40% of gay men and 47% of bisexual men compared to 21% of heterosexual men;
  • 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.

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