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Amanda Merck

Merck completed her MPH with a concentration in Physical Activity and Health. She curates content for Salud America! (@SaludAmerica), a Latino childhood obesity prevention project based at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio. She focuses on the latest research, resources, and stories related to policy, systems, and environmental changes to enhance equitable access to safe places for kids and families to walk, bike, and play.


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Articles by Amanda Merck

Does Your State Support Walking, Biking, and Physical Activity?


Does Your State Support Walking, Biking and Physical Activity

Walking and biking are critical transportation options for physical and mental health. More importantly, they are essential to get to destinations, particularly Latinos during the coronavirus pandemic — including those who are simultaneously less likely to work from home than their white peers and more likely to be impacted by job loss. When the pandemic began, the portion of auto loan accounts in financial hardship jumped from 0.64% in March to 3.54% in April, according to TransUnion. Financial hardship status is defined by factors incliuding: A deferred payment or frozen past-due payment because a person is unable to keep up with payments due to a change in financial circumstances, such as loss of a job Significant cut in hours or pay Medical illness To recover and ...

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San Antonio Job Opportunity: Help with Contact Tracing to Slow COVID-19


San Antonio job opportunity

Are you concerned about the spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in San Antonio? The UTHealth School of Public Health in San Antonio is recruiting workers on behalf of Metro Health to become Case Investigators and Contact Tracers. Case Investigators/Contact Tracers will be responsible for connecting with COVID-19 patients, as well as locating and counseling individuals those patients may have come into contact with during the course of their infection. Identifying, quarantining, and testing people exposed to a known COVID-19 patient helps end the chain of disease transmission. Apply now and share this opportunity with friends and family. You can also learn more about how COVID-19 impacts Latinos. Data Collector: Case Investigator Position Summary: This position ...

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Transit and Compact Development are Solutions to Health Equity, COVID-19 Recovery


compact development is important for COVID recovery

Researchers are finding that population density is not associated with higher death rates from COVID-19. Unfortunately, some people still blame compact housing and transit for pandemic spikes, and use that misinformation to promote sprawling residential development and disinvestment in transit in the name of health. These are the same poor practices that have segregated neighborhoods and contributed to drastic disparities in health and wealth for a century. As city leaders respond to concerns about COVID transmission and develop economic recovery plans, they must challenge the discriminatory status quo, consider transportation expenses, and shift toward equitable, compact (not overcrowded) housing development. “Restoring urban transit networks to full force, expanding their ...

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7 Reasons Not Everyone Can Just Hop on a Telehealth Video Call


Address Equity in the Telehealth Revolution

Delaying medical care can cause catastrophic health and financial problems. That’s why early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services temporarily expanded its telehealth coverage so physicians, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists and licensed clinical social workers would be reimbursed for telehealth services. Other payers followed suit. Unfortunately, not everyone can just hop on a telehealth video call. Many Latinos and other vulnerable populations—older people, people experiencing domestic violence, and families with low income—face insurance, language, health literacy, digital literacy, and digital access barriers to telehealth services. Moreover, telehealth can be challenging for people with autism, intellectual and developmental ...

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#SaludTues Tweetchat 6/23: Telehealth for Underserved Communities During COVID-19


#SaludTues Telehealth for underserved communities

To minimize exposure to and transmission of COVID-19, providers have rapidly transitioned to telehealth to care for patients at a distance. However, there is an absence of best practices and necessary infrastructure to expand telehealth services, particularly in underserved and Latino communities. Latinos are particularly vulnerable to this disruption in care for many reasons, such as: they have highest uninsured rates of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S.; they are less likely to have a usual source of health care; they face barriers related to differences in culture, language and beliefs; they are less likely to have broadband subscription than whites; and they face higher rates of COVID-19 due to their jobs in the service industry. Join #SaludTues on June ...

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Does Racism Qualify as a Public Health Crisis?


racism as a public health crisis prejudice stereotype

Unlike a pandemic or emergency, there is no epidemiological definition for public health crisis. Experts at the Boston University School of Public Health tried to solve this. They explored the distinction between immediate and important and how politics, perceived risk, and affected groups shape the concept of a crisis. For example, they juxtaposed the number of deaths caused by terrorism and by gun violence with action taken by the U.S. government. Between 2001 and 2013, 3,380 Americans were killed by terrorism and 406,496 Americans were killed by firearms on U.S. soil; yet the U.S. spent trillions on the War on Terror and failed to pass gun control legislation. They conclude that people often confuse the immediate and the important, and that the important often fails to receive ...

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Ohio Leaders Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis


Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) speaks about racism and protestors on the Ohio House floor on June 4 2020 Source Ohio Channel

Systemic racism makes it harder for Latinos and other people of color to get healthcare, housing, transportation, education, employment, healthy food, safe treatment by police, and more. How can cities and states take a meaningful step to address racism? Declare racism a public health crisis. That’s what cities and counties in Ohio are doing, with a commitment to: Incorporate educational efforts to dismantle racism. Review all portions of codified ordinances with a racial/ethnic equity lens. Prioritize policies that will have the most beneficial health impact on people of color. Train elected officials, staff, funders and grantees on workplace biases and how to mitigate them. “Through race-conscious policy-making, we’ve got to unwind the generations of ...

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4 Recommendations to Help At-Risk Kids, Families amid School Closures, Isolation


reaching at-risk kids and families while school is out isolation coronavirus 2-1-1

As educators quickly adapted to virtual platforms to stay in academic contact with students after schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, many at-risk students were stranded in potentially unsafe, traumatic home situations. How could schools, while closed, still check on child welfare and connect families to resources? To answer this question, child advocates started brainstorming. West Virginia, Massachusetts, and Oklahoma advocates launched a bi-weekly Brainstorming Group March 25, 2020, to share best practices, recommendations, and resources to help these kids. Soon, advocates joined from Ohio, Maryland, Florida, and Texas (including Salud America!). The group generated four main recommendations: 1. Continue Sending ‘Handle With Care’ Notifications Did you ...

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