The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE) launched the first installment of a new public information series called the Climate and Health Outlook (Outlook).
This new Outlook series connects weather forecasts to health resources to create actionable data that saves lives and reduces illness and health risks associated with climate-related hazards like extreme heat, wildfires, hurricanes, droughts, and vector-borne diseases that impact human health.
This inaugural edition of the Outlook will take on extreme heat, which has been a key target of the Administration’s efforts to build resilience to the impacts of climate change. As part of this and future editions, the Outlook series will add a health lens to seasonal weather and climate outlooks from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to inform health professionals and the public about weather- and climate-related health risks months in advance and provide resources to prepare.
“We’ve seen what exposure to extreme heat can do,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “It can lead to illness and death and makes it much harder to do a day’s work outdoors. Many people in the United States have jobs that require them to work outside to feed their families regardless of the weather. Our new Climate and Health Outlook protects people and their health by giving advance notice to the communities that will be most impacted in the coming months.”
“Our communities across the country will soon be facing heatwaves that will be an additional strain on our health systems,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Rachel Levine. “This information will save lives when used by public health officials, employers with outdoor workers, and schools and local health departments and the individuals they serve. Having information in advance can reduce illness and deaths from extreme heat exposure.”
For the Climate and Health Outlook on Extreme Heat, the OCCHE collaborated with NOAA and the National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS), a federal interagency partnership developed by the CDC and NOAA, to illustrate where the greatest health risks from heat will be in the United States during the early 2022 heat season.
Based on NOAA monthly and seasonal climate outlooks, this first Outlook presents estimates of which U.S. counties are expected to experience extremely hot days and identifies the vulnerable populations in those counties that could be impacted by heat exposure. It also provides a set of actionable resources from HHS that are targeted to the public, specific populations, health care professionals, and public health officials to reduce health risks from heat.
The Outlook will be updated and improved regularly as future data and feedback are collected. Future editions will address other climate-related threats to the health of people living in the United States, with a focus on those most vulnerable.