New Resource Helps Communities Respond Effectively to COVID-19

Faculty; Public Health; Research

​Is the spread of COVID-19 increasing, or decreasing? The answer differs by location, and the numbers can be confusing –even to experts. Now, a new resource from the Center for Health Economics and Policy(CHEP) at the university’s Institute for Public Health aims to help people understand which numbers are important and how they reflect whether the virus is under control.

Understanding, Measuring and Controlling COVID-19 Spread in Missouri” uses data from the Show-Me State as an example, but the principles can be used anywhere. It also explains how to determine if the virus spread has diminished enough to meet guidelines issued by the federal and state governments for reopening various portions of the economy.

“The idea is to help people connect policies and behaviors to how COVID-19 is spread, and then hone in on the data that are best able to capture whether the virus is under control,” said Abigail Barker, research assistant professor at the Brown School and the faculty lead for data and methods at the Center for Health Economics and Policy at the Institute for Public Health.

“The hope is that local and state policymakers, as well as business leaders and others in decision-making roles, can use this information to connect policies and behaviors to the data describing how the virus spreads,” she said. “The information can be especially useful in suggesting ways to best monitor the situation at a local level, so that responses can be deployed at the local level.”

“As the state begins to allow businesses to reopen, and as people resume moving around and interacting more with others, it will be imperative that decision makers continue to monitor the spread of the COVID-19 virus and adjust policies accordingly.”

Barker’s co-authors on the report were Leah Kemper and Karen E. Joynt Maddox.