Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Leah R. Fowler (University of Houston), Jessica L. Roberts (University of Houston), Nicolas Terry (Indiana University), Improving Data Collection and Management, COVID-19 Policy Playbook: Legal Recommendations for a Safer, More Equitable Future. Boston: Public Health Law Watch (2021):
Data are fundamental to good public health policies and their implementation. However, the lifecycle of public health data (collection, analysis, and distribution) in response to COVID-19 was flawed. Public health data suffered from politicization, a lack of centralized leadership, and substandard governance. These flaws must be quickly corrected. That rebuilding process should also seek to improve disease surveillance by leveraging syndromic surveillance, genomic surveillance, and digital epidemiology. Priority must also be given to addressing inequity by improving the amount and quality of sociodemographic data. As well as improving the quality of the data we collect, we must do more to make the data available to the parties that require it, presented in a form that maximizes its utility. Finally, our existing or novel institutions must find the appropriate balance between access and privacy. This paper was prepared as part of the COVID-19 Policy Playbook: Legal Recommendations for a Safer, More Equitable Future, a comprehensive report published by Public Health Law Watch in partnership with the de Beaumont Foundation and the American Public Health Association.