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Misinformation and disinformation during infectious disease outbreaks can hinder public health responses. This analysis examines comments about masks and COVID-19 vaccines on Twitter during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic. We conducted a content analysis of 6,600 randomly selected English-language tweets, examining tweets for health, political, of societal frames; inclusion of true information, false information, partially true/misleading information, and/or opinion; political components; risk frames; and use of specific types of rumor. We found false and partially false information in 22% of tweets in which we were able to assess veracity. Tweets with misinformation were more likely to mention vaccines, be political in nature, and promote risk elevating messages (p<0.5). We also found false information about vaccines as early as January 2020, nearly a year before COVID-19 vaccines became widely available. These findings highlight a need for new policies and strategies aimed to counter harmful and misleading messaging.
One of the lessons learned from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is the utility of an early, flexible, and rapidly deployable disease screening and detection response. The largely uncontrolled spread of the pandemic in the United States exposed a range of planning and implementation shortcomings, which, if they had been in place before the pandemic emerged, may have changed the trajectory. Disease screening by detection dogs show great promise as a noninvasive, efficient, and cost-effective screening method for COVID-19 infection. We explore evidence of their use in infectious and chronic diseases; the training, oversight, and resources required for implementation; and potential uses in various settings. Disease detection dogs may contribute to the current and future public health pandemics; however, further research is needed to extend our knowledge and measurement of their effectiveness and feasibility as a public health intervention tool, and efforts are needed to ensure public and political support.
The lack of radiation knowledge among the general public continues to be a challenge for building communities prepared for radiological emergencies. This study applied a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) to the results of an expert survey to identify priority risk reduction messages and challenges to increasing community radiological emergency preparedness.
Professionals with expertise in radiological emergency preparedness, state/local health and emergency management officials, and journalists/journalism academics were surveyed following a purposive sampling methodology. An MCDA was used to weight criteria of importance in a radiological emergency, and the weighted criteria were applied to topics such as sheltering-in-place, decontamination, and use of potassium iodide. Results were reviewed by respondent group and in aggregate.
Sheltering-in-place and evacuation plans were identified as the most important risk reduction measures to communicate to the public. Possible communication challenges during a radiological emergency included access to accurate information; low levels of public trust; public knowledge about radiation; and communications infrastructure failures.
Future assessments for community readiness for a radiological emergency should include questions about sheltering-in-place and evacuation plans to inform risk communication.
This article describes implementation considerations for Ebola-related monitoring and movement restriction policies in the United States during the 2013–2016 West Africa Ebola epidemic.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted between January and May 2017 with 30 individuals with direct knowledge of state-level Ebola policy development and implementation processes. Individuals represented 17 jurisdictions with variation in adherence to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, census region, predominant state political affiliation, and public health governance structures, as well as the CDC.
Interviewees reported substantial resource commitments required to implement Ebola monitoring and movement restriction policies. Movement restriction policies, including for quarantine, varied from voluntary to mandatory programs, and, occasionally, quarantine enforcement procedures lacked clarity.
Efforts to improve future monitoring and movement restriction policies may include addressing surge capacity to implement these programs, protocols for providing support to affected individuals, coordination with law enforcement, and guidance on varying approaches to movement restrictions.
Policy-makers and practitioners have a need to assess community resilience in disasters. Prior efforts conflated resilience with community functioning, combined resistance and recovery (the components of resilience), and relied on a static model for what is inherently a dynamic process. We sought to develop linked conceptual and computational models of community functioning and resilience after a disaster.
We developed a system dynamics computational model that predicts community functioning after a disaster. The computational model outputted the time course of community functioning before, during, and after a disaster, which was used to calculate resistance, recovery, and resilience for all US counties.
The conceptual model explicitly separated resilience from community functioning and identified all key components for each, which were translated into a system dynamics computational model with connections and feedbacks. The components were represented by publicly available measures at the county level. Baseline community functioning, resistance, recovery, and resilience evidenced a range of values and geographic clustering, consistent with hypotheses based on the disaster literature.
The work is transparent, motivates ongoing refinements, and identifies areas for improved measurements. After validation, such a model can be used to identify effective investments to enhance community resilience. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018;12:127–137)
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