State Health Commissioner Highlights Local Public Health Efforts During 15-County National Public Health Week Tour

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 5, 2010) - State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., today began a five-day, 15-county tour to highlight the work of county public health agencies during National Public Health Week, April 5-9.

After participating in a drinking water taste contest and visiting a Community Garden in Troy, Rensselaer County, Commissioner Daines traveled to Greene County where he participated in a healthy menu initiative at the MOD Café in Catskill and toured the county Emergency Operations Center in Cairo. Day one of the tour concluded at Cobleskill Regional Hospital in Schoharie, where he learned about local public health prevention activities.

The remainder of the week's tour includes visits to Chenango, Cortland and Cayuga counties on Tuesday; Seneca, Yates, and Schuyler counties on Wednesday, Allegany, Cattaraugus and Wyoming counties on Thursday; and Orleans and Wayne counties on Friday. For the complete itinerary of Dr. Daines' visits during National Public Health Week, visit:

More than 20,000 public health professionals work in New York State in agencies serving 57 counties and the five boroughs of New York City. During the 2009-2010 flu season, county health departments outside of New York City administered more than 325,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine to residents who attended their free clinics.

Dr. Daines will be presenting H1N1 Response Recognition Awards to all county health departments to recognize their response, which he credits with preventing a serious flu epidemic from becoming even more dangerous. Public health directors in counties visited during National Public Health Week will receive their awards this week, while the remainder of county public health officials will receive awards later this month.

Additionally, each year the public health workforce:

  • Investigates tens of thousands of cases of communicable diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, and tuberculosis; and implements programs to prevent transmission.
  • Analyzes nearly 1 million water samples to monitor drinking water quality;
  • Investigates more than 1,000 health care-associated disease outbreaks in hospitals and nursing homes;
  • Conducts more than 150,000 food inspections in restaurants and institutional kitchens;
  • Conducts nearly 40,000 inspections of registered tobacco vendors to ensure compliance with state standards;
  • Inspects more than 10,000 swimming pools and bathing beaches, and approximately 5,000 summer camps;
  • Reviews childhood immunization policies and coverage in hundreds of physician offices and clinics to ensure that children are receiving all the immunizations needed to remain healthy; and,
  • Conducts anonymous rapid HIV testing in community-based organizations, local health departments and other settings.