Public Health Preparedness


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


    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


    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

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Assessment of Electronic Health Records for Infectious Disease Surveillance: Final Mapping Exercise Report

    The objective of the project is to investigate the current status of EHR systems in the EU and European Economic Area and the potential capacity for the use of these data for surveillance of infectious diseases within ECDC's remit.

    Dec 1, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Value-Based Payment and Health Care System Preparedness and Resilience

    This report explores issues related to VBP and health system preparedness and resiliency to inform discussions about policy options for jointly promoting value, efficiency, and preparedness in the health care system.

    Oct 7, 2021

  • Tool


    Citizen Science for Disasters: A Guide for Community Groups

    This toolkit provides guidance to community groups on engaging with disaster citizen science to support public health preparedness.

    Sep 29, 2021

  • Tool


    Citizen Science for Disasters: A Guide for Local Health Departments

    This toolkit provides guidance to local health departments on engaging with disaster citizen science to support public health preparedness.

    Sep 29, 2021

  • 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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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.


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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