VDH Launches Lead Testing in Drinking Water at Virginia Schools and Child Care Centers

Today, the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Office of Drinking Water (ODW) announced the launch of a statewide voluntary Lead Testing in Drinking Water at Schools and Child Care Centers in Virginia program. This free program will test for lead in drinking water in select Virginia public schools and child care centers.

The purpose of this program, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is to help Virginia public schools and child care centers identify lead occurrences in their drinking water and reduce exposure.  Currently, the program has approximately $1.1 million in funding, which will be able to collect and analyze 40,000 samples.

Virginia public schools (K-12) and child care centers interested in participating in this program should enroll at leadinvawater.org.  Selected schools/child care centers will be notified by the VDH team.

Selection to the program is based on available funding with prioritization based upon the affordability criteria established by the state under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), to include schools with at least 50% of the children receiving free and reduced lunch and head start facilities. Priority will also be given to elementary schools and child care centers that primarily serve children 6 years and under and older facilities that are more likely to contain lead plumbing.

“This program is an amazing opportunity to partner with schools and child care centers to help identify and reduce lead exposure in drinking water in children,” said Dr. Tony Singh, deputy director of the Office of Drinking Water. “Every action we take to reduce lead exposures improves the health of our children.”

Protecting children from lead exposure is important for lifelong health, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the EPA.  Lead is especially harmful to the health of children because it can interfere with brain development.

Lead can enter drinking water when plumbing materials that contain lead corrode, especially where the water has high acidity or low mineral content. The most common sources of lead in drinking water are lead pipes, faucets, and fixtures. Lead pipes are more likely to be found in older cities and homes/buildings built before 1986 before the SDWA banned lead in plumbing fixtures.

To learn more about this program visit leadinvawater.org or email info@leadinvawater.org.

VDH Launches Firearm Injuries Data Dashboard

RICHMOND, VA – Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) launched a new data dashboard on firearm injuries in Virginia showing the number and rate of emergency department (ED) visits from 2016 to 2022. The dashboard shows firearm injury data by year, health district, age group, sex, and race/ethnicity across Virginia.

The dashboard is a result of the Firearm Injury Surveillance Through Emergency Rooms (FASTER) funding awarded to VDH by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  VDH is one of 10 recipients funded for three years with the goal to improve public health surveillance of firearm injuries using near-real time ED data.

“The misuse and mishandling of firearms constitute a significant cause of injury in Virginia,” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “This data set, obtained from emergency department records, will assist in the assessment of proximate causes of firearm-related injury, with an eye toward prevention of future injuries.”

The dashboard findings show:

  • The number of ED visits for firearm injury increased 72% from 2018 (1,635 visits per year) to 2021 (2,815 visits per year).
  • From January 2016 through May 2022, the majority of firearm injury ED visits in Virginia (86%) were among males.
  • Among racial groups, most ED visits for firearm injury occurred among Black patients. In 2021, 65% of ED visits for firearm injury were among Black patients, compared to 22% among White patients.
  • Young adults bear the highest burden of ED visits for firearm injury with nearly one-third (31%) occurring among adults aged 18-24 years in 2021.

VDH worked with an advisory group of partners, including hospitals, education partners, law enforcement, state agencies and community organizations, to understand data needs and gather feedback about the firearm injury data dashboard.  Hospital and freestanding EDs report data to VDH, a partnership that is key for timely tracking of community health impacts.

This data is an example of syndromic surveillance, a strategy used by public health to detect emerging health issues and monitor community health in near-real time. Learn more about syndromic surveillance at:  www.vdh.virginia.gov/surveillance-and-investigation/syndromic-surveillance/.

In the next year, VDH hopes to expand the firearm injury dashboard to include data on firearm injury hospitalizations and deaths. While intent of injury (assault, intentional self-harm, unintentional) is not available through the ED data at this time, it will be available for hospitalization and death

Infant Formula Shortage Information


Fact Sheet: Helping Families Find Formula During the Infant Formula Shortage (from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) 
This fact sheet includes information regarding:

  • Manufacturer Hotlines
  • Community Resources
  • WIC -Eligible Families
  • General Guidance

Infant Formula Shortages: Tips on what to do when you can’t find formula at the store

Visit healthychildren.org from the American Academy of Pediatrics for more information regarding healthy children

Alternatives to Formula:


Other Resources:

International Men’s Health Week is June 13 – 18, 2022

Men's Health WeekThis week, we recognize the importance of the health and wellness of men and boys. It is celebrated annually on the week leading up to Father’s Day. International Men’s Health Week is a reminder to reflect on the benefits of prioritizing your health and the health of men in your life.

Our daily lives can get busy, but it’s very important to find the time to take care of yourself. So use International Men’s Health Week to consider wellness a priority, no matter how busy you are.

Here are several things to think about during the week. 

  • Schedule appointments to see your doctors. Annual checkups and dental and optometrist appointments are just the tips of the iceberg. Depending on your age, consider getting checked for diseases like prostate cancer, HIV, etc.
  • Find the time to stay active. Exercise can significantly reduce your risk of developing diseases. Activity can happen outside, at the gym, or in the comfort of your home. Find an exercise routine based on your fitness level. If you are unsure about your fitness level, consult your healthcare provider. Then, depending on the activity, encourage your family and friends to join you!
  • Maintain a healthy diet. Nutritious meals are vital for your health. Fruits and vegetables can contribute to higher energy levels. If you don’t know what to eat, consider setting up a meal plan you can follow.
  • Focus on mental health. Your mental state can be just as important as your physical state. Having a self-care routine can keep you at ease. In addition, activities like meditation, therapy, and time away from stressors can improve your health. And all it takes is just a few minutes.

Use this week to think about the steps you can take to improve or maintain a healthy lifestyle. International Men’s Health Week isn’t just for men – we want the women in their lives to learn more too!

Learn more about Men’s Health: https://www.menshealthnetwork.org/library/healthfacts.pdf 

Virginia Department of Health’s Child and Adult Care Food Program Granted Extensions by USDA Food and Nutrition Service

Media Contact:  Brookie Crawford, brookie.crawford@vdh.virginia.gov

Virginia Department of Health’s Child and Adult Care Food Program Granted Extensions by USDA Food and Nutrition Service

RICHMOND, VA – Today, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced the release of an extension to several nationwide waivers to help providers in the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) to continue to meet the nutritional needs of child and adult participants during the public health emergency caused by COVID-19.

CACFP is a federal program that provides reimbursements for nutritious meals and snacks to eligible children and adults who are enrolled for care at participating child care centers, day care homes, and adult day care centers.

The extension now allows these waivers to remain in effect through June 30, 2023.

The following waiver requests provide the following information:

  • This flexibility applies to all CACFP entities impacted by COVID-related supply chain disruptions and are unable to provide a complete, reimbursable meal.
  • It is expected that CACFP entities document any changes to their menus caused by COVID -related supply chain disruptions issue(s); i.e. delivery delays, product unavailability, etc. State agencies must also document instances where flexibilities are provided; as appropriate.
  • States should continue to encourage their CACFP entities to report any impacts to services associated with COVID-related supply chain disruptions and forward to their MARO state desk contact.

The waivers include:

  • Non-Congregate Meal Service [42 U.S.C 1753(b)(1)(A) and 7 CFR 226.19(b)(6)(iii)] – this waiver allows national school lunch programs, including the seamless summer option, school breakfast program and CACFP operators to provide non-congregate meals.
  • Parent/Guardian Meal Pick-Up [7 CFR 226.2] – this waiver allows national school lunch programs, including the seamless summer option, school breakfast program and CACFP operators providing non-congregate meals during COVID-19 to distribute meals to parents or guardians to take home to their children.
  • Meal Service Times [7 CFR 226.20(k)] – this waiver allows national school lunch programs, including the seamless summer option, school breakfast program and CACFP operators to serve meals outside of standard meal times.
  • State Agency Onsite Monitoring Visits [7 CFR 226.6(b)(1) and 226.6(m)(6)] – this waiver waives the requirement for state agencies to conduct onsite visits and monitoring of CACFP programs, but program operations should continue to be monitored offsite.
  • Sponsoring Organization Onsite Monitoring Visits [7 CFR 226.16(d)(4)(iii)] – this waiver waives the requirement for sponsoring organizations to conduct onsite visits and monitoring of CACFP programs, but program operations should continue to be monitored offsite.

For more information about the CACFP program, please call the help desk at (877) 618-7282 or email the Division of Community Nutrition at  CACFP@VDH.Virginia.gov.

# # #

Governor Glenn Youngkin Encourages Virginians to Prepare Now for the 2022 Hurricane Season

~ Hurricane season begins June 1~

RICHMOND,VA — Governor Glenn Youngkin is urging Virginians to prepare now for this year’s hurricane season, which began today and lasts through November 30. Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are predicting another above-average hurricane season this year with a likely range of 14 to 21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provided these ranges with a 70% confidence.

“I want to encourage Virginians to take the time and prepare now for this coming storm season,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “This includes not only our coastal residents but inland Virginians as well. History has proven that our inland communities are just as susceptible to hurricane impacts like flooding, tornadoes, and high winds.”

For comprehensive information on preparedness, response, and recovery activities, please review the Virginia Hurricane Evacuation Guide, which not only includes evacuation information, but also highlights actions to take in the event of tropical weather.

“Virginia should be proud of the work being done by our public safety agencies to ensure a swift and effective response to all hazards, including hurricanes,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Robert Mosier. “We can’t forget that the best form of preparedness is ensuring you and your family also have a plan, make a kit, and stay informed of potential bad weather.”

Recent years have proven that hurricanes are also not just a coastal threat. Even storms that start in the lower Atlantic or Gulf States have the potential to come north and cause significant damage. This is why we encourage all Virginians across the Commonwealth to take the time to become prepared.

“Preparedness is all about being ready before a storm or disaster even develops,” said Shawn Talmadge, State Coordinator at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. “Many of the items we ask Virginians to keep in a kit or plans that should be made are not only applicable to hurricanes but for many other types of hazards as well. Just a little bit of planning goes a long way in ensuring the safety and welfare of you and your family.”

Take the time now to review your insurance policy, secure your property, and create a plan that includes arrangements for your pets or those that may need extra assistance. Below are a few critical steps to ensure you and your family’s safety.

Know your zone. Evacuation may become necessary depending on the track and severity of the storm. Review Virginia’s evacuation zones at KnowYourZoneVA.org. Users can enter their physical address in the search bar of the website to view and confirm their designated evacuation zone.

Complete a family communication plan. Prepare for how you will assemble and communicate with your family and loved ones. Identify meeting locations and anticipate where you will go. Federal Emergency Management Agency guidance on family communications plans is available here.

Check your insurance coverage. Remember, there may be a waiting period (typically 30 days) for a flood insurance policy to become effective, and be aware that not all storm-related losses, such as flooding, are covered under traditional policies. Now is the time to review your coverage and contact your insurance agent for any changes. If you are not insured against floods, talk to your insurance agent or visit floodsmart.gov. If you are a renter, now is the time to ensure you have adequate coverage to protect your belongings.

Make an emergency kit. Assemble an emergency kit that includes nonperishable food, water, medication, sanitary supplies, radios, extra batteries, and important documents. Learn more about building an emergency supply kit  here.

Stay informed. Identify where to go for trusted sources of information during emergencies. Check with your local emergency management office to sign up for alerts that go directly to your phone or email. Be sure to monitor local news for watches and warnings in your area and follow directions of local officials. Power outages are always a concern during weather events—make sure you have a battery-operated radio available so you can still receive life-saving alerts.

There are many resources available to assist with hurricane planning efforts. Learn more about preparing your business, your family, and your property against hurricane threats (and other disasters) at vaemergency.gov/prepare and ready.gov/hurricanes.

Colin Greene column: How to prevent heat-related illnesses

Originally posted at Richmond.com

girl in poolAlthough it won’t officially be summer for another month, many Virginians already are facing some days of extremely hot weather. What follows are some recommendations on staying safe in the heat.

Every year, more than 600 people in the U.S. die of heat-related illnesses, and many others experience hospitalization. It is crucial to ensure that we take precautions against heat injury.

Your body has several ways of getting rid of excess heat. The first is to release it into the air (or water) around you from your skin, and to dilate the blood vessels beneath your skin to carry more internal heat to the surface to be released.

The second occurs through breathing, where body-temperature air is exhaled and replaced by cooler inhaled air. The third — and perhaps most important — is through sweating. Water in sweat evaporates, taking heat with it and cooling the skin.

When the body can’t shed enough heat, its core temperature starts to rise, and serious danger can follow. Heat cramps might occur, where muscle pain develops, often after overexertion in the heat. Heat exhaustion might follow, with excessive sweating; cool, clammy skin; extreme fatigue; headache; muscle cramps; nausea or vomiting; dizziness or lightheadedness; confusion; and darker-colored or decreased urination.

Heat stroke is the most serious outcome, where the body’s cooling systems have been overwhelmed. The body temperature rises to 105 degrees Fahrenheit or higher; the skin becomes warm and dry; and rapid heart rate, shallow breathing and significant mental status changes occur. This might lead to permanent brain and organ injury, coma and death.

Extreme heat is especially dangerous in humid climates. As the air temperature approaches body temperature, it becomes harder for the skin or breath to release body heat. In high humidity, sweat evaporates very slowly, losing much of its cooling effect.

Dehydration occurs as body fluid is lost through sweating and evaporation. In turn, dehydration makes it harder to sweat, and increases risk of organ damage due to loss of blood flow.

The best way to avoid heat injury is prevention. Here are few tips from an old soldier, who now is your state health commissioner:

  • Be aware of the weather forecast for any given summer day, and plan ahead. (P.S. This is good advice all year round.)
  • For particularly hot, humid days, limit outdoor activity. Stay in an air-conditioned location as much as possible, and if you will be outdoors, frequently seek shade. Wear light-colored clothing and wide-brimmed hats to reflect the sun’s rays. Apply sunscreen to exposed skin.
  • Limit or postpone outdoor exertion. The hotter it gets, the more time resting (in shade) you need and the less time you should spend working. Play, such as sports or hiking, counts just as much as work.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. If you will be outdoors, plan on drinking a quart of fluid every hour or so. Alternating water with a sports-type drink often works best. Skip the caffeine and alcohol: Both of these increase urination and dehydration.

Don’t wait to feel thirsty.

  • Drink fluids on a schedule when you’re outdoors in the heat.
  • Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast. There is water in your food as well as in your drink.
  • Have a buddy, and watch out for each other while in the heat. Include weather in your work planning.
  • Be a buddy, especially to elderly or disadvantaged neighbors, who might not have air conditioning. Check up on them; offer them access to AC during the heat. Homeless people are especially at risk.
  • Never leave children or animals alone in vehicles.

For mild symptoms, in yourself or your buddy:

  • Get out of the heat, into an air-conditioned space if possible, but into the shade as a minimum.
  • Rest in a cool area until symptoms completely resolve.
  • Drink water or sports drinks, as discussed above.
  • Consider calling it quits for the day for any more outdoor exertion.

For any concern of heat stroke (changes in level of consciousness; disorientation or confusion; warm, dry skin without sweating despite the heat):

  • Dial 911 immediately.
  • Cool the victim down as effectively as possible: move to shade/indoors, wet down with water and fan the body.
  • Only give fluids by mouth if fully conscious and oriented.
  • Get to medical attention as soon as physically possible.

Heat is part of summer — and sometimes late spring — but it can be dangerous if not treated with respect. Let’s prevent heat injuries in our commonwealth.

Severe Weather Preparedness

severe weather sign

Understand Severe Weather Terms

Understanding severe weather terms can help you and your loved ones prepare.

  • Hurricane Warning: show the onset of hurricane conditions expected in the warning area within the next 48 hours.
    • During a hurricane warning: complete storm preparation;
    • leave the affected area if directed by local officials.
  • Hurricane Watch: issued when a hurricane with sustained winds of 74 mph (65 knots, 118 km/h) or higher is possible.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch: there is a possibility that severe thunderstorms may occur in your area.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning: a severe thunderstorm is occurring or will likely occur soon in your area.
  • Flash Flood Watch: due to heavy or excessive rainfall in a short period of time, your area may experience flooding.
  • Flash Flood Warning: Flash flooding is in progress, imminent, or highly likely. Seek higher ground immediately or evacuate if directed to do so.
  • Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms.
  • Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.

Prepare For Severe Weather

Download the Ready Virginia mobile app to stay up to date on changing conditions.  More steps that you can take to keep yourself and loved ones safe include:

  • An emergency kit prepared with supplies. Include things such as:
    • Alternate fuel source for heating your home,
    • Flashlights and batteries,
    • Blankets,
    • Food that needs no cooking or refrigeration,
    • 3 day supply of water,
    • Prescription medicines,
    • Battery operated radio,
    • Flashlights, and
    • Cell phone chargers.
  • Prepare your car with emergency supplies. Have maintenance service on your vehicle as often as the manufacturer recommends.
  • Check batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors.
  • Update important documents: insurance information and home inventory. Store them in your emergency kit or a waterproof container.


Know What To Do During Severe Weather:

Governor Youngkin and the Virginia Department of Health Recognize April 4-10 as National Public Health Week

Governor of Virginia Glenn Youngkin has released a proclamation recognizing April 4-10, 2022 as National Public Health Week. This week allows us time to formally recognize the amazing efforts that the staff of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and the citizens of Virginia perform to keep themselves and others safe and healthy.

The American Public Health Association’s national theme, “Public Health is Where You Are”, focuses on how our interactions as a community are the foundation for building a healthy population. The VDH regularly collaborates with both public and private sector partners to build strong healthy communities in Virginia.

During this week the VDH has launched its “I Am Public Health Campaign” which showcases how each person is instrumental in creating and maintaining a healthy population. The campaign seeks to inform the general public that VDH performs a wide array of functions including and beyond COVID prevention, while celebrating the role of the public health worker.