Harvard resource aims to clarify COVID-19 risk levels in real time

Harvard University

A panel of experts convened by the Harvard Global Health Institute and Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics launched last week Key Metrics for COVID Suppression framework that provides guidance on how to target and suppress the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) more effectively across the nation, according to a press release from the university in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

According to the researchers, the new framework brings clarity to metrics that help communities determine the severity of the outbreak they are responding to. A new COVID Risk Level map shows if a county or state is on the green, yellow, orange, or red risk level, based on the number of new daily cases. The framework then delivers broad guidance on the intensity of control efforts needed based on these risk levels. In addition, it offers key performance indicators for testing and contact tracing across all risk levels, as a backbone for suppression efforts.

The framework also allows for a breadth of options for what to do beyond testing, tracing, and supported isolation (TTSI) when jurisdictions are at yellow and orange levels. Public officials need to make strategic decisions suitable to their context, the experts said.

Once a community reaches the red risk level, stay-at-home orders become necessary again. The framework also draws attention to the need to focus on suppression at every risk level.

“The metrics are now clear: we can reopen and keep open our workplaces and our communities,” said Jonathan Quick, MD, MPH, managing director for Pandemic Response, Preparedness, and Prevention at the Rockefeller Foundation, in a statement. “But achieving this will require a dramatic expansion of testing and tracing to again flatten the curve and eventually suppress the pandemic to near zero new cases.”

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