COVID-19 Testing Communications and Community Engagement Toolkit
|Harvard Global Health Institute, Brown University School of Public Health and The Rockefeller Foundation launched a new resource for cities, states and community partners. This evidence-based, free Toolkit helps educate about the importance of Covid-19 testing and aims to increase participation in asymptomatic testing. |
To combat the rapid increases in Covid-19 infections and bring the pandemic back under control, the nation needs to perform millions of tests every day this fall and winter. Thanks to the arrival of millions of rapid point-of-care tests and other increases in testing capacity, cities and states can finally act on this urgent need, expand the scope of who they are testing, and screen more broadly for the virus.
For this approach to work, however, Americans need to know why, when, and where they should get tested, and how they can readily participate in testing, even if they feel healthy. Public health departments and community organizations now have help in achieving this goal through the launch of the Covid-19 Testing Communications and Community Engagement Toolkit. The Toolkit is a free, public resource that equips anyone interested in communicating the importance of Covid-19 testing with resources to run motivating, clear campaigns that educate Americans about the ins-and-outs of coronavirus testing.
“To date, communications approaches have focused largely on encouraging testing of people who feel sick. There is a significant gap in public understanding of how healthy people can spread the virus, and in which situations to seek a test,” says Dr. Ashish K. Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. “Testing delays and shortfalls also have created misconceptions about the availability of tests. And because of misinformation, there is a lack of public trust in testing as a crucial measure to suppress the virus and reduce death and suffering.”
Produced jointly by the Brown School of Public Health and the Harvard Global Health Institute, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, and developed with input from mayors and local leaders, the new Toolkit is a one-stop-shop, online resource, that offers guidance on campaigning best practices, easy-to-use practical tools, and a large library of ‘plug and play’ testing communication materials such as social media cards and posts, animations, newsletters, and handouts. Experts in public health, medicine, epidemiology, and supply chain collaborated with artists and expert communicators to create materials that are both accurate and engaging. Key messages have been translated into eight common languages spoken in the U.S.
“The Toolkit helps people understand a key aspect of this pandemic: That you can pass along the virus without knowing you have it,” says Dr. Thomas Tsai, Assistant Professor of Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and fellow at the Harvard Global Health Institute. “At least every second infection in this pandemic comes from someone who wasn’t sick when they infected others. So to stop this silent spread of the virus, we all need to know more about how testing works and when we should seek a test.”
“This new resource takes the mystery out of Covid-19 testing and makes it a thing we all do at some point,” says Danielle Allen, director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and an expert reviewer of the Toolkit. “The politicization of this pandemic has made it difficult to know where to find trustworthy information; with this tool, trusted community messengers can help vulnerable communities get the knowledge they need to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
“Testing is becoming increasingly available and we need people to understand that taking a test, even if they don’t have symptoms, protects themselves, their loved ones, and their neighbors,” says Eileen O’Connor, Senior Vice President of Communications, Policy, and Advocacy at The Rockefeller Foundation. “Most importantly, we can re-open our economy fully and safely if every person is routinely tested, isolates when positive, and wears a mask. This toolkit provides clear, consistent messages so that Americans understand the value of getting tested and other measures, even when they feel healthy.”
Confronting COVID-19: Science, History, Policy Lectures Available to Watch on YouTube
The ongoing COVID-19 epidemic presents an important opportunity for Harvard undergraduates to closely observe this world-changing, historic episode and to analyze scientific, social, and political elements of the U.S. and global responses. This exciting and unprecedented course is co-led by Dr. Allan Brandt and HGHI Associate Faculty Director Ingrid Katz, and began in September 2020.
The course provides an opportunity for undergraduates at Harvard to deepen their understanding of a contemporary crisis and explicate a wide range of disciplinary methods and skills. The course brings together experts from a wide array of fields who offer approaches for understanding essential issues raised by the pandemic, including: the science of the virus; medical and public health responses; and the impact on economies, society, and culture. The course broadly considers how epidemics reveal existing social structures such as fundamental health disparities and social inequalities. Among the questions explored are: how do we balance basic freedoms and social restrictions as we face critical new threats to human health; and how do we think about risk and vulnerability in the face of uncertainty, from a both a personal and political viewpoint? As the epidemic unfolds in real time, students have an opportunity to integrate interdisciplinary perspectives for understanding epidemic disease and how it shapes and reflects powerful social forces and global systems.
Over the course of the semester, each course lecture will be recorded, captioned, and made available in the YouTube library. Please use the link provided below to watch recorded lectures on the YouTube Channel.
For more information on HGHI undergraduate courses and undergraduate global health opportunities visit here.
Brown University School of Public Health and HGHI update state testing targets in collaboration with NPR.
How many daily tests are needed to frequently screen for COVID-19 and keep people safe in schools, prisons, nursing homes, among grocery store and restaurant workers? How can we democratize testing? The COVID-19 testing calculator, developed by a joint team of researchers from HGHI and Brown University School of Public Health, helps decision makers refine their testing strategy and estimates the number of tests needed to implement their chosen approach.
In the coming months, the U.S. needs to be performing millions of tests each day to open and keep open the economy, send children back to school safely, and finally suppress the coronavirus. The arrival of millions of new antigen tests – such as the 150 million tests for nursing home testing the Trump administration recently announced – and other new testing modalities will allow cities and states to gradually increase their testing. They can expand beyond testing only people with symptoms, and begin to regularly and strategically test more and more asymptomatic people in critical settings.
“We’ve been holding our breath as a country for the last months — waiting for a new technology, waiting for more capacity for testing.”Dr. Thomas Tsai, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and HGHI Fellow
This screening approach to testing – for example, testing all school children in Colorado once a week – is supported by the COVID-19 testing calculator, which informs decision makers on the number of tests needed. The tool offers five scenarios: base and ideal options, as well as three intermediate options that focus on schools, health care, or the economy.
The goal of the calculator and the accompanying recommendations is to help illustrate the trade-offs decision makers face as they consider how to distribute increasing testing capacity. In the current environment of market-driven testing distribution, those who have the means (sports teams, elite universities, companies on Wall Street) can afford a screening testing approach. Meanwhile, cities and states lack support and funding from the federal government and congress, and so they struggle to build the infrastructure to regularly screen in critical contexts.
The testing calculator is currently available for download as an Excel file. For an explanation of the methodology, and more information about the five testing scenarios, and further updates to the calculator, please visit globalepidemics.org.
Calling all Harvard undergrads! Register now for HGHI’s exciting new course Confronting COVID-19: Science, History, Policy (Gen Ed 1170). This course meets a general education (Gen Ed) requirement as well as a politics of health category requirement for the secondary field in Global Health and Health Policy (GHHP)
What you can expect: A groundbreaking course, featuring more than 70 Harvard faculty guests, that explores the impact of the current global pandemic, COVID- 19. Learn more by reading the class description below.
“We are living in a world radically reshaped by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This course will investigate the wide range of questions raised by the pandemic, its impact and significance. We will also examine how diseases raise fundamental issues for science, policy, and society. In addition to assessing our scientific and medical knowledge about COVID-19, the course will utilize strategies from history, the humanities, and the social sciences to illuminate central policy and political considerations for addressing the epidemic in the U.S. and across the globe. The course will bring experts from a wide array of fields to offer approaches for understanding essential issues raised by the pandemic, including: the science of the virus; medical and public health responses; as well as its impact on economies, society, and culture. We will also broadly consider how epidemics reveal existing social structures such as fundamental health disparities and social inequalities. Among the questions we will explore are: how do we balance basic freedoms and social restrictions as we face critical new threats to human health; and how do we think about risk and vulnerability in the face of uncertainty from both a personal and political viewpoint? As this epidemic unfolds in real-time, you will have an opportunity to integrate interdisciplinary perspectives for understanding epidemic disease and how it shapes and reflects powerful social forces and global systems.”