🕳️ APHA: portal to a public health bizarro world hellscape 🔥

Crossposted from Teams Human Newsletter Substack.

The American Public Health Association steps through a hellish mirror and recklessly abandons even centuries proven public health practices.

Derwezeh gas crater, Turkmenistan photo by P.Lechien, Public Domain

“Almost any large indoor gathering is a super-spreader event at this point.”

Dr. Matt Willis Marin County health officer in San Francisco Chronicle June 2022

Instead of promoting a salubrious environment for a meeting of public health professionals during an historic & deadly ongoing pandemic, something that should be in their wheelhouse — the APHA is choosing to go ahead with a superspreader event — but wait, there’s more!

Two years ago I didn’t even know APHA existed. Once I learned of them I was confused about why they have been conspicuously absent in advocating for public health in the pandemic. I’m not sure what they’re doing but it doesn’t seem like public health to me, and I’m the public!

APHA super spreader event 2021

Epi Ellie remarked in October 2021 that she was seeing photos from the APHA convention of people indoors and maskless, at a public health meeting. Some replies with unmasked con photo retweets in the thread have since been deleted. And a loose concept of social distancing, looking at one picture, I’m wondering how close these people would otherwise get with colleagues.

Picture is of a tweet of @moosealperin that says “spending the day with @publichealth affiliates … socially distanced in Denver & online! hashtag APHA2021 hashtag GPHA and includes a photo of about 20 people at about 7 tables in a room looking at laptops. and then a close up picture next to the tweet shows people 3 at a table together with laptops, at least 2 appear to be unmasked.

APHA plans “healthiest” 2022 super spreader in Boston

I learned APHA was planning another super spreader in November, with NO mitigations this time in Massachusetts. And they chose the tagline “Creating the Healthiest Nation” — some of the most irreverent hubris I’ve seen in the pandemic — and that’s really saying something.

The image is text from the APHA advertisement with their pinwheel logo in the zeor of 150 years. Text also says APHA 2022 - 150 years of creating the healthiest nation: leading the path toward equity. APHA 2022 Annual meeting & expo Boston November 6 - 9

Even setting aside the ableist use of the word “healthiest” — the claim is not true by any measure. And to take credit? This seems so ass backwards to any reasonable person. People are grieving and suffering and they’re celebrating what? Over a million Americans dead from covid. The only way this could have even internal logic is if someone is a Great Barrington Declaration herd death true believer and thinks the beyblade strategy would “create” a healthy nation.

Tweet from RA Smith says “Totally normal world view dot dot dot” screen cap is of a tweet by @jackmurphylive says “If covid had been left to do it’s thing our nation would have become as a result, healthier, fitter, and younger - ie stronger. 10:32 PM 11 December 2021 follow up tweet “what kind of a bioweapon leaves it’s target healthier younger and stronger?”

I’ve seen some garbage takes in the pandemic, but I have to hope this isn’t one anyone in the public health profession would have.

Signing a covid waiver for legal liability is required for attending “packed to the brim” APHA event

APHA 2022 expo ad says the expo is packed to the brim with engaging presentations, etc
APHA 2022, APHA’s Annual Meeting & Expo is packed to the brim with engaging presentations, collaborative conversations and interactive experiences that will help you grow professionally.

“Packed to the brim” seems like a peculiar choice of words for what they know is going to be rife with the spread of infectious disease. And we know that they know the virus will spread there, not because they are public health experts, but because they spell it out in the legal covid waiver that attendees must agree to, as shown by @danaludwig. It stipulates attendees “risk exposure to and contraction of potentially dangerous diseases and viruses” and that “APHA makes no representations that it has taken any safety precautions that relate to infectious diseases or exposure.”

COVID Policy: Liability Waiver and Assumption of Risk
I understand that participation in APHA’s 2022 Annual Meeting is entirely voluntary and requires attendees to comply with any applicable rules of conduct or federal, state, or local laws in effect at the time of the Annual Meeting. In addition to all other rules and regulations relating to my attendance at the Annual Meeting, | agree to comply with all COVID-related protocols and procedures that may be implemented by APHA, the city of Denver, and The Colorado Convention Center, including, but not limited to, mask-wearing and physical distancing requirements and restrictions on certain activities that carry higher COVID- related risk, in order to protect as much as possible, the health and safety of all affected persons, including meeting attendees.
Assumption of risk. | understand and acknowledge that | risk exposure to and contraction of potentially dangerous diseases and viruses, including the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and any other diseases or viruses not listed, by attending the Annual Meeting in person. | acknowledge that APHA makes no representations that it has taken any safety precautions that relate to infectious diseases or exposure, and even if APHA did proactively take preventative measures, APHA has made no representation that those measures will in any way reduce or prevent the risks associated with exposure.
I understand and acknowledge the risks associated with diseases and viruses, and | am fully aware that exposure may result in infection, severe illness, injury, pain and suffering, temporary or permanent disability, and even death. | understand that my attendance and actions may not be supervised and that APHA does not provide medical services. | understand that the risk of becoming exposed to or infected by COVID-19 at the Annual Meeting may result from the actions, omissions, or negligence of others who may attend the Annual Meeting or their families, colleagues, or others with whom they may have contact. Accordingly, understand and agree that this release includes any claims based on the actions, omissions, or negligence of APHA and its Executive Board and Governing Council members, directors, officers, employees, or agents from any and all liability in connection with the Annual Meeting.
| further acknowledge that any exposure | may sustain while at the Annual Meeting may be compounded by negligent or delayed medical service or negligent or delayed assistance by APHA. | understand that, even if APHA has taken any proactive measures to reduce potential exposure, there is still high risk of exposure and APHA has not in any way represented that there is no exposure risk due to its proactive measures. | VOLUNTARILY AND FREELY ASSUME ALL RISKS AND DANGERS THAT MAY OCCUR PURSUANT TO MY ATTENDANCE OR PARTICIPATION IN THE ANNUAL MEETING AND PARTICPATION IN ACTIVITIES AT THE ANNUAL MEETING, INCLUDING THE RISK OF INJURY, DEATH, OR PROPERTY DAMAGE, EVEN IF CAUSED BY NEGLIGENCE OF APHA.
Thereby agree, on behalf of myself, my heirs and my personal representatives, to fully and forever discharge and release APHA and its affiliates, and its respective partners, agents, operators, managers, employees, and representatives (“APA Parties”) from any and all claims | may have or hereinafter have for any injury, temporary or permanent disability, death, damages, liabilities, expenses and/or causes of action, now known or hereinafter known in any jurisdiction in the world, attributable or relating in any manner to my attendance at or participation in the Annual Meeting and participation in any activities at the Annual Meeting, whether caused by the negligence of the APHA or any of the APHA Parties or by any other reason. | acknowledge and agree that this Liability Waiver and Release is intended to be, and is, a complete release, as much as allowed by law, of any responsibility of the APHA Parties for all personal injuries, temporary or permanent disability, death, and/or property damage sustained by me while attending the Annual Meeting or participating in any activities of the Annual Meeting,
Covenant Not to Sue. | agree, for myself and all my heirs, not to sue the APHA Parties or initiate or assist in the prosecution of any claim for damages or cause of action against the APHA Parties which | or my heirs may have as a result of any personal injury, death or property damage | may sustain while at the Annual Meeting or while participating in any activities of the Annual Meeting.
Indemnification. | hereby agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless APHA and the APHA Parties from and against any third- party losses, damages, actions, suits, claims, judgments, settlements, awards, interest, penalties, expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) and costs of any kind for any infection, illness, personal injury, loss of life or damage to property sustained by reason of or arising out of my attendance of the Annual Meeting or participation in any activities of the Annual Meeting.
This Release and Waiver of Liability agreement will be governed by and interpreted in accordance with the laws of the District of Columbia, without giving effect to principles of conflicts of law. | agree that any action arising out of this Release and Waiver of Liability Agreement must be brought exclusively in any court located in the District of Columbia.

It mentions covid infection can cause death and that nobody can hold APHA legally responsible, even if transmission is because of “negligence of APHA and its Executive Board.”

I wonder what kind of NDAs & waivers the employees working the convention sign.

APHA “leading the path toward equity” in which America?

The term “Two Americas” comes to mind when APHA mentions equity — because it’s clear to me which one the APHA are living in, with their $900 event registration fee.

It’s pure gall when they’re not even having a hybrid option this year. I heard that disabled presenters were denied a remote option even as disability accommodation. This means that disabled are excluded because they’ve made the event inaccessible. Heck, they haven’t even floated a trash gesture like pandemic buttons.

And you do not need a MPH to know that lack of mitigation in the pandemic has been creating disastrous levels of death, disproportionately perpetrated upon marginalized communities. During the pandemic we’ve taken more than two steps back on that path to equity. It was in the news that knowing the racial disparities“largely prompted white people to consider themselves less vulnerable to the virus and, thus, fail to support safety precautions.”

APHA leadership really needs to explain why they’re so resistant to mitigation measures.

They only reversed course to require masks after both Uché Blackstock and Eric Feigl-Ding announced they’d be cancelling their memberships in protest.

APHA invites soft-pandemic-denier media darling Leana Wen… to whine about cancel culture

Leana Wen often sounds like an anti-masker. During cable tv appearances she promotes attitudes and stances that have also been found originating from stuff like “The Great Barrington Declaration” and “The Urgency of Normal” — which have connections to Koch backed anti-teacher union busting efforts and other big money anti-mitigation efforts.

In response to Doctor Blackstock’s intent to withdraw membership from APHA, the organization reached out on twitter to defend platforming Leana Wen saying they believe there’s value in hearing from a range of voices.

How far will this range go? Will they include Mike Flynn to speak about monkeypox? Will next year’s APHA expo be booked at Mar-a-Lago? I don’t know what to expect at this point. America’s Frontline Doctors?

Leana Wen has argued against protecting children from easily preventable continuing harm. You know, it’s the same argument that children’s car seat requirements simply cannot continue forever — because reasons. Obviously this makes no sense, the “forever” thing is just a semantic stop sign to shut down pleas for public health action.

APHA needs to explain why they would entertain such anti-public health nonsense?

APHA convention draws members away from their polling locations during an historically important Election Day

Election Day in the US is November 8. And APHA decided to have their convention November 6 to 9. Potentially hundreds of public health professionals might accidentally miss voting in a very important election for public health & equity. The mid-terms are already typically plagued with low turnout while new barriers have been pushed in some states against absentee mail voting.

What is the APHA doing to make sure attendees are reminded they will need to arrange to vote?

Executive director of American Public Health Association calls for defunding public health

Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association was actually quoted in the New York Times newspaper advocating for the DEFUNDING OF PUBLIC HEALTH. He literally said, “The fact that they’re going away is good” in reference to emergency declarations. Emergency declarations are what allocate money for disasters. If they go away, that’s defunding the response to the public health issue.

APHA needs to explain why a public health organization would be speaking out against funding the work of the professionals in its membership.

Dr. Sealy-Jefferson, appears iced out after being elected to a leadership position in APHA

I kept seeing people showing up on every twitter thread about APHA’s pandemic missteps, to reference “what they did to Dr. Sealy-Jefferson” and it all being indicative of a bigger problem. It’s clear this woman has garnered respect and regard from people, including Dr. Ellie Murray, so much that people are still referring to Dr. Sealy-Jefferson’s APHA thread from February 2021.

Anyone who reads her account will immediately recognize she’s describing an environment where insiders view and treat someone as an outsider. Dr. Sealy-Jefferson won an election for a position, but seemed undermined in her effort to assume it. The story is more wrenching since she lost her father to the virus during that time.

The American Public Health Association needs to explain why they’ve abandoned the mission that’s in their name!

  • Why is APHA so resistant to mitigations?
  • Why is APHA denying disabled remote option as an accommodation?
  • What is APHA doing to remind people about Election Day?
  • Why is APHA entertaining someone pushing big money anti public health propaganda?
  • Why is APHA’s executive director advocating for defunding the work of its membership?
  • How is APHA planning to make amends to Dr. Sealy-Jefferson?

A full list of the links used:

Darvaza Crater

The Atlantic: How Public Health Took Part in Its Own Downfall by Ed Yong (Archive Link)

Twitter post by Mike Hoerger, PhD, MSCR, MBA @michael_hoerger

Twitter post by jimi adams @jimiadams

Twitter post by rasha abdulhadi @rashaabdulhadi

Twitter post Dr Ellie Murray, ScD @EpiEllie

Teams Human Newsletter: Jun 27 edition by Chloe Humbert

Marked By Covid on Instagram, Mark the Million

The New Inquiry: “The Beyblade Strategy” or: How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Focused Protection by Artie Vierkant, Beatrice Adler-Bolton, and Death Panel

Twitter post by Dana Ludwig @danaludwig

Teams Human Newsletter: Maybe skip Pandemic Buttons

NBC News: Study: Covid’s racial disparities made some white people less vigilant about the virus by Char Adams

Twitter post by uché blackstock, md @uche_blackstock

Twitter post by Eric Feigl-Ding @DrEricDing

Collective Statement in response to Leana Wen, MD, MSc as Speaker for the 2022 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in Boston, MA

DeSmog: A Right-Wing Think Tank Is Behind the Controversial Great Barrington Declaration Calling for COVID-19 Herd Immunity By Dana Drugmand

Protean: Motivated Reasoning: Emily Oster’s COVID Narratives and the Attack on Public Education by Abigail Cartus and Justin Feldman

Counter Disinformation Project: The Pandata File

How Big Money is behind the push against pandemic protections, a collection of 4 articles by Walker Bragman, with Alex Kotch or Andrew Perez (tinyurl.com/BigMoney-ProVirus)

Twitter post by APHA @PublicHealth

MindWar: The Psychological War on Democracy: Joe and Mike Flynn’s War on LGBTQ+ by Jim Stewartson

Counter Disinformation Project: America’s Frontline Doctors Report, The Council for National Policy’s creation, disinformation & insurrection

Twitter post by Leana Wen, M.D. @DrLeanaWen

Wikipedia: A thought-terminating cliché (also known as a semantic stop-sign, a thought-stopper, bumper sticker logic, or cliché thinking)

Teams Human Newsletter: Alarm is appropriate, the volcano is erupting by Chloe Humbert

The New York Times: The pandemic isn’t over, but most U.S. states formally say that it’s no longer a health emergency. by Adeel Hassan (Archive Link)

Twitter post by Dr Ellie Murray, ScD @EpiEllie

Twitter thread by Dr. Sealy-Jefferson @Dr_S_Jefferson