Public Health Preparedness

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Public health emergencies such as infectious disease, bioterrorism, or natural disasters require a coordinated response at the local, national, and international levels. RAND research improves the capability of public health systems to anticipate and prepare for such emergencies, by providing a robust set of standardized response measures, tabletop exercises, and toolkits; using GIS technology for planning; and identifying best practices and lessons learned from multiagency exercises.

  • A person donates blood during a Red Cross and Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team blood drive at Chase Field in Phoenix, April 28, 2020, photo by Ross D. Franklin/AP Images

    Essay

    A Stable Blood Supply Is Critical in the COVID-19 Era

    Aug 27, 2020

    Millions of lives depend on the U.S. blood supply. But no one knows exactly how much blood is in the system at any given time, or whether it's enough to meet demand. The federal government has no way to collect that data, and hospitals don't share it with each other. What can be done to strengthen the system?

  • A map of the continental United States is shown with lines representing COVID-19 importation risk

    Project

    Tracking the Spread of COVID-19 with Air Travel Data

    Jun 5, 2020

    As the pandemic enters a new phase, punctuated by emerging hot spots and continuing global spread, a new RAND tool lets policymakers predict regional risks of importing cases of COVID-19.

Explore Public Health Preparedness

  • A woman receives a COVID-19 vaccine from a paramedic at the historic Greater Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa, Florida, February 14, 2021, photo by Octavio Jones/Reuters

    Commentary

    How Have Communities Been Faring During COVID-19? And How Will Lessons Learned Inform Future Response and Planning?

    As the United States emerges from the devastation of the pandemic, it may be time to examine the choices communities made during the last year to see how these approaches shape continued COVID-19 response and recovery and help build resilience for future pandemic response.

    Aug 11, 2021

  • Laboratory with map of United States showing disease outbreaks, photo by janiecbros/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Rebuild Public Health for the Next Pandemic?

    COVID-19 exposed how underprepared the United States was for a pandemic and raised questions about preparedness for the next one. With political will to spend money on public health, how can America take a holistic view of all the options? And how should investments be prioritized?

    Aug 6, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    COVID-19 Community Response: Emerging Themes Across Sentinel Communities

    Since the onset of COVID-19, RAND researchers contributed to four reports on the impact and response in nine communities (Finney Co., Harris Co., Milwaukee, Mobile, San Juan Co., Sanilac Co., Tacoma, Tampa, and White Plains) and four cross-community reports.

    Jul 14, 2021

  • A person getting a COVID-19 vaccine in Santiago de Chile, Chile, on August 25, 2020, photo by Rodrigo Balladares/Handout/Reuters

    Commentary

    Thinking Through Rapid and Scalable Rollout of Healthcare Innovations for Public Health Challenges

    The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that rapid innovation in the face of public health emergencies is possible. In only 15 months, 15 vaccines have been approved or authorized for use in various parts of the world. What thinking is required to support uniform rapid rollout for future public health emergencies?

    Jun 14, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Is Public Health's Multisectoral Mission Achieving Its Promise in the United States?

    This chapter examines the progress and limitations of public health's current approach to cross-sector collaboration and offers insights about paths forward.

    Jun 8, 2021

  • A magnifying glass held up to an enlarged COVID-19 virus, photo by Stockcrafter/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Origin Story: How Did the Coronavirus Emerge?

    President Joe Biden has called for the U.S. intelligence community to redouble efforts to determine the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. In conducting this investigation, it might be useful to avoid only focusing on a binary choice. That is, either the virus escaped from the laboratory or from a spillover from an infected animal to a human.

    Jun 2, 2021

  • Blog

    Pandemic Education, Working Mothers, Predicting Cyber Threats: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the urban-rural divide in pandemic education, supporting working moms, what makes a good COVID-19 reopening plan, and more.

    May 14, 2021

  • Moviegoers buy concessions before the movie Godzilla vs. Kong on the reopening day of the TCL Chinese theatre in Los Angeles, California, March 31, 2021, photo by Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

    Report

    Stress-Testing California's COVID-19 Reopening Strategy

    States' reopening plans vary widely. With a revised RAND decision support tool, researchers tested alternative plans, using California as an example. The best strategies did not prematurely relax measures like indoor mask-wearing; began with a high level of caution; were tied to vaccination rates; and made changes gradually.

    May 10, 2021

  • Blog

    Trust in the CDC, Teaching Students with Disabilities, Russian Mercenaries: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses declining trust in the CDC, insights from educators about teaching students with disabilities, Russian mercenaries, and more.

    Apr 9, 2021

  • News Release

    News Release

    Public Trust of the Centers for Disease Control Falls During Coronavirus Pandemic

    Public trust in the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has fallen during the coronavirus pandemic, with the decline bringing overall population-level trust in the agency to the same lower level of trust long held by Black Americans about the agency.

    Apr 5, 2021

  • The exterior of the Tom Harkin Global Communications Center, otherwise known as Building 19, located on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Roybal Campus in Atlanta, Georgia.

    Report

    Trust in the CDC Declined During the COVID-19 Pandemic

    From May to October 2020, some Americans lost trust in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The drop in trust was particularly significant among people who intended to vote for a candidate other than Joe Biden in the 2020 election or did not intend to vote at all. This suggests that views of the CDC are now strongly politicized.

    Apr 5, 2021

  • Dennis D'Urso, a resident ER doctor at Holy Cross Hospital, leaves work after his shift amid an outbreak of COVID-19, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, April 20, 2020, photo by Marco Bello/Reuters

    Testimony

    Core Principles of Public Health Emergency Preparedness

    Public health emergencies are defined by their consequences, not their causes. That means infectious disease outbreaks such as COVID-19 qualify, but so do some hurricanes and terrorist attacks. What can policymakers do to support effective public health emergency preparedness?

    Mar 16, 2021

  • Business owner in a mask posting a closed sign on the door, photo by RichLegg/Getty Images

    Report

    Comparing National and International Approaches to COVID-19 Measures

    Uniform measures are needed to track how well other countries and U.S. states are responding to the pandemic and to make valid cross-country and cross-state comparisons. From December 2019 to May 2020, there was tremendous variability in how COVID-19 indicators were measured and reported. What could be done to allow for more standardized and valid comparisons?

    Jan 29, 2021

  • COVID-19 vaccination stations inside Hillcrest High School, a designated New York City priority vaccination center for people in group 1B, in Queens, NY, January 11, 2021, photo by Anthony Behar/Reuters

    Commentary

    COVID-19 Options for 2021

    The disorganized public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States helped ensure that the nation led the world in infections nearly from the beginning of the pandemic. With vaccines now becoming available, are we over the problem? Not necessarily.

    Jan 12, 2021

  • People talk outside of Flora Gallery and Coffee Shop near a downed tree in the street after Hurricane Zeta swept through New Orleans, Louisiana, October 29, 2020, photo by Kathleen Flynn/Reuters

    Report

    When Hurricanes Happen During Pandemics

    Hurricanes can change patterns of mobility and expand the spread of COVID-19, for example, to communal shelters. On the other hand, fear of the virus could cause people who might otherwise evacuate to shelter in place, resulting in more deaths from a hurricane. How can policymakers prepare for this threat?

    Dec 9, 2020

  • Periodical

    Periodical

    RAND Review: November-December 2020

    Features explore the challenge of delivering effective treatments for veterans with co-occuring disorders; teachers, students, and the importance of civic responsibility in present-day America; and teaching and learning in the age of COVID-19.

    Nov 16, 2020

  • Periodical

    Periodical

    RAND Review: September-October 2020

    Feature stories explore how Pardee RAND is helping to shape the future of public policy through its Faculty Leaders Program; the safety and sustainability of the U.S. blood supply; and how telemedicine is changing the delivery of health care.

    Sep 8, 2020

  • Blog

    Voting in a Pandemic, the U.S. Postal Service, Defunding the Police: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on Americans' views about voting in the age of COVID-19, what makes the U.S. Postal Service so essential, why some in law enforcement may be open to “defunding the police,” and more.

    Aug 28, 2020

  • Child wearing a face mask and gloves, holding a binder with Back to School and drawings of coronavirus, photo by Amy Mitchell/Getty Images

    Commentary

    To Reopen Schools Safely, Prepare for New COVID-19 Test Capabilities

    Safely reopening K–12 schools for in-person instruction requires complicated protocols ranging from symptom monitoring to physical distancing, as well as containment of transmission in the community. State policymakers and school leaders could begin planning now to draft, pilot, and evaluate protocols for reopening schools that incorporate rapid testing.

    Aug 28, 2020