243: Predicting COVID-19 in the Fall

Dylan George, the Director of Operations for the Center for Epidemic Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics with the CDC, discusses what could happen with COVID-19 infection rates in the fall and winter; Maggie Davis, ASTHO’s Director of State Health...


Dylan George, the Director of Operations for the Center for Epidemic Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics with the CDC, discusses what could happen with COVID-19 infection rates in the fall and winter; Maggie Davis, ASTHO’s Director of State Health Policy, previews a new ASTHO report addressing maternal child health policy considerations during public health emergencies; ASTHO’s process for setting legislative priorities is outlined in a new blog article; and ASTHO highlights three job openings this week.

COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub Webpage

CDC Webpage: COVID-19 Forecasting and Mathematical Modeling

Public Health Law Practitioners Convening Webpage

ASTHO Blog Article: Advocating for Success: ASTHO’s Federal Legislative Priorities

ASTHO Webpage: Careers at ASTHO

ASTHO logo

Transcript

ROBERT JOHNSON:

This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Wednesday, August 17th, 2022. I'm Robert Johnson.

Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

 

DYLAN GEORGE:

Barring the introduction of a novel variant into the United States, current indications point to a decline in depth in hospitalizations moving into the fall season.

JOHNSON:

Dylan George with the CDC considering what could happen with COVID infection rates in the fall and winter. He admits it's a process that depends on several factors.

GEORGE:

As we have seen in last few waves, they're largely being driven by emerging variants. The unpredictability of these variants has been that major source of uncertainty as to how to think about what we're going to experience going forward as a nation and globally.

JOHNSON:

George says he and his colleagues ask a lot of questions when they calculate their projections about COVID variants and how many people could get sick because of them.

GEORGE:

Some of the scenarios that we're looking at are a couple things. New variants, are they emerging, what are the properties of the new variants? Waning immunity from past infection or vaccination, and how that will generate new susceptibles in the population and potentially increase the probability of a reinfection at scale. And then, behavioral patterns. How are we actually interacting with one another? Are we traveling? Are we going into small spaces together without masks, et cetera.

So, going forward, those are the things to really pay attention to new variants. Are they more transmissible? Are they creating more disease? Are they more clinically severe? Changes in that immunity pattern and that waning immunity? And is that different than what we've been experienced over the last little while? And then how are these behavioral changes really driving dynamics?

JOHNSON:

George adds they're also tracking the latest with COVID vaccines

GEORGE:

It's unclear how boosters will interact with new variants, how effective therapeutics will be with new variants, what will the booster uptake be, and how will protection go across different populations in different ways. There's critical uncertainties associated with things going forward.

JOHNSON:

The CDC is one of several partners who've come together to create a COVID Scenario Modeling Hub. You can get to the site using the link in the show notes.

 

ASTHO's Maggie Davis is in Chicago today for the Public Health Law Practitioners Convening. She's there this week to discuss the impact of recent Supreme Court decisions on public health law and a new ASTHO report addressing maternal child health policy considerations during public health emergencies.

MAGGIE DAVIS:

So, this report is separated into three areas for preparedness, response, and recovery; and gives public health leaders tools and policy considerations to make sure that pregnant people who are at higher risk of infectious disease during public health emergencies—and are at higher risk of certain infections, in general—to put in place policies that would minimize or mitigate some of those risks to try and make sure that we are adequately protecting the health of pregnant people, neonates, and infants throughout a public health emergency.

JOHNSON:

Davis says the report is tailored for ASTHO members.

DAVIS:

Several of the policy considerations listed in the report are things within a public health official's or health department's control. So, it is really highlighting policy levers already within the control of the health department that could help improve health outcomes for pregnant people and neonates and infants in an emergency, whether it is a public health emergency alone or a natural disaster that has a public health emergency with it.

 

JOHNSON:

Also this morning, ASTHO legislative priorities are outlined in a new blog article written by Jeffrey Ekoma, a senior director on the government affairs team. Learn how the ASTHO legislative agenda is separated into three tiers and get your copy of the organization's public health appropriations book using the link in the show notes.

 

Finally today, ASTHO highlights three job openings this week. The organization is hiring two senior analysts, one in maternal and infant health and the other focused on chronic disease, risk factors, and equity promotion. There's also a listing for an analyst to work on grants projects.

Get more information using the link in the show notes.

 

That'll do it for today's newscast. We're back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.

Maggie Davis JD MA PMP

Director, State Health Policy, ASTHO

Dylan George PhD

Director of Operations, Center for Epidemic Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, CDC