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"Good Communication Will Help Beat COVID-19"

In an opinion piece published in The Hill, distinguished professor of health policy and management Dr. Jonathan Fielding addresses the need for pandemic-related public communications to be based on science. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

written by Dr. Jonathan Fielding


Weeks into the COVID-19 crisis, the U.S. population needs accurate information on the virus, but we are still struggling to get it right. The way that officials, leaders, and experts talk with the public during this crisis matters because it could mean the difference between life and death. 

I find there’s a disconnect between communications based on good intentions and those based on good science. What’s proven elusive at several levels of government is a mechanism to marshal facts, vet differing viewpoints, decide who should answer difficult questions, and — most importantly — ensure that all recommendations and directives are based on sound science.

That hasn’t been easy for officials from the president of the United States to local mayors, who are trying to lead despite the inherent difficulties of a rapidly changing situation fraught with unknowns.