Public Health

Mask communication redux

The site, from Resolve to Save Lives and Vital Strategies has added to its resources a Mask Guidance Playbook Promoting mask use is one of the key interventions governments, communities, businesses, and other organizations can implement to control COVID-19. The Playbook includes communication strategies, monitoring approaches, and more. This is a step in the right direction, relating to my own post about the need for more effective public health messaging, What do you mean communication is the biggest challenge?

Public health PSAs

In my post What do you mean communication is the biggest challenge?, I observed social contexts antithetical to effective communication directed towards serving public health objectives, contexts like distrust of science, proliferation of misinformation like conspiracy theories, and politicization of health policy. I asserted that effective health messaging must establish credibility and foster a receptive environment. I suggested leveraging techniques of public relations and advertising towards those ends in order to achieve desirable outcomes of healthy choices made by informed communities.

Crappy hospitalization data

The crappy hospitalization data is why I prefer to review status by state based on excess deaths. Hospitalization Data Reported by the HHS vs. the States: Jumps, Drops, and Other Unexplained Phenomena. Analysis about how crappy the hospitalization data is and suggestions about why. On the other hand, vital statistics reporting is long established, very complete, and very accurate. If you look at all-cause mortality, you take out of the equation questions of coincidence of morbidity and viral positivity.

Rapid test advocacy kit

Rapid testing for SARS-CoV-2 would change the game, but your help is needed to make these tests available. Current tests described as “rapid” still require equipment and the results aren’t as rapid as possible. The sticking point is around FDA requirements about test sensitivity. The most rapid tests aren’t authorized yet because they are less sensitive than clinical tests. However, although clinical-grade tests are necessary to diagnose cases for treatment, disease surveillance using rapid tests can greatly deter community spread even if they are somewhat less sensitive.

Things I heard about herd

A couple months ago, I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation of the human cost of herd immunity to SARS-CoV-2. I estimated the U.S. would not see herd immunity until it reached another 195 million cases and, grimly, the deaths that would accompany them. I believed herd immunity was impossible. Shortly thereafter, I saw an article from Johns Hopkins University that did the calculation the same way I did and came up with a similar estimate of 200 million cases.

Are cases important?

News reports in the U.S. of coronavirus test positivity do not necessarily interpret the metrics consistent with the public health objectives for collection of these data. Other metrics easily reviewed on data reporting websites can better serve the typical news viewer. Why do we track a disease or, in public health terms, conduct surveillance? How do we define a case of a disease, and to what ends? Surveillance can have many objectives, and the objectives can differ by disease.

Conversation with Dr. Robert Redfield, MD

I see CDC Director, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, MD all the time on the news and appearing before Congress. The interview below is a live stream from July 14, 2020. Seeing Dr. Redfield in a loosened up environment in conversation with a colleague revealed a lot more of him. I learned about his background, his experience, and who he is as a man. It solidified my respect. In his interview, Dr.

Dr. Fauci at Georgetown

Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared in a live virtual event for Georgetown University on July 14th, 2020. I would like to post expert opinion on a regular basis as a public service for access to authority and an antidote for misinformation. The talk was co-sponsored by Georgetown University’s Global Health Initiative, the Institute of Politics and Public Service at the McCourt School of Public Policy (GU Politics), the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law and the Kalmanovitz Initiative on Labor and the Working Poor.

Some news is good news

I surveyed friends on Facebook a while back asking what they hoped the results would be if they got a SARS-CoV-2 antibody test. They gave a range of answers. Some hoped for positive results, others negative. This question has scaled up. Seroprevalence is 6-24 times higher than indicated by reported cases. Seroprevalence of Antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in 10 Sites in the United States, March 23-May 12, 2020 I see some news outlets reporting this in dire tones.