Guidance and Explainers

Tools and resources that individuals and decision-makers can use to better understand the COVID pandemic, learn about epidemiology concepts that help explain the pandemic and the response to it, and make good decisions about managing risk.

Contact Tracing

Infographic on contact tracing: (Sharon Casey; Mentors: Lynsie Ranker, Dr. Ellie Murray): An infographic detailing the scenarios where someone might be called by a contact tracer and the importance of helping support this public health are detailed in this brief, single-page infographic. The hope is that it will help remove some of the mystery from the process of contact tracing.

Toolkit for self-contact tracing (Mohannad Salaghur; Mentors: Lynsie Ranker, Dr. Ellie Murray) An article detailing the basics of self-contact tracing and the importance of forming this habit to help local contact tracing efforts. The work also included creation of an editable PDF where individuals can track their contacts, and was inspired by Dr. Ellie Murray’s original “How to help with contact tracing” cartoon infographic.


Epidemiology Concepts

Controlling the Delta variant: These articles explain epidemiology concepts and present calculations to compare the relative public health impacts of offering booster shots versus prioritizing vaccinations among the unvaccinated, and discuss the importance of additional mitigation measures.

Distance and transmission: This piece points out the problems with using “6 feet for 15 minutes” as a rule of thumb for defining close contact for COVID exposure and talks about better alternatives for managing airborne disease transmission.

Understanding simulation models: Simulation modeling has been an important part of the preliminary understanding of the pandemic. This project includes articles about interpreting simulation models and understanding their strengths and limitations.

Testing 1, 2, 3: This multimedia explainer discusses what positivity rates are and how they are determined, and explains the relationship between testing and case rates.

  • Testing 1, 2, 3 by Gray Babbs and Tasha McAbee (narrated by Ellie Murray)


Community Outreach and Advocacy

COVID Corps YouTube Channel: Database of videos on COVID-19 related topics

Last Mile – COVID Straight Talk (Mentor: Tricia Wang) COVID Straight Talk’s mission is to save lives and protect livelihoods by providing accessible public health information on COVID-19 and accelerating policy change for workplace indoor air safety. We launched a bilingual public health campaign urging essential workers to make and demand immediate, life-saving changes related to air safety in their work and home environments. The call-to-action of the campaign is “Get M.A.D. and Stay Safe”. The acronym M.A.D. stands for masks (M), keeping indoor air fresh (A), and maintaining physical distance (D), the three most important areas to address to reduce risks of contracting and spreading COVID-19. The site features hacks, M.A.D. toolkits for workers, employers and HVAC professionals, and a M.A.D. Survey that gives personalized tips to implement at work or home. To learn more, visit COVID Straight Talk and @lastmileworks on Instagram and Twitter.


Risk Communication

The Covid Audit (Sarah Lincoln, Leona Ofei, Shagun Modi, Hana Do, Ivanna Rocha, Andrew Chiao, Claire Galvin, Brianna Driscoll, and Ada Feng, Mentors: Dr. Ellie Murray, Dr. Bertha Hidalgo) An Elemental series where the team audits diaries submitted by real people.

COVID risk management and holiday travel: COVID Corps members developed several resources to encourage safer holiday gatherings during the pandemic.

Guiding Principles for Science and Risk Communicators (Syra Mada, Dr. Ellie Murray): This piece highlights principles that risk and science communicators should follow to provide facts, share evidence and science-based information, and manage rumors, misinformation and disinformation.

I’m an epidemiologist. Here’s what I got wrong about covid (Dr. Ellie Murray): In this piece, Dr. Murray outlines what has changed in her assessment of the pandemic over time and presents a model for expert reflection and self-criticism.

Outbreak preparedness (Eleanor Murray): Early in the COVID pandemic, Dr. Murray wrote a pair of brief pieces for the general public about how to prepare for a new disease outbreak and some tips for life during a pandemic.


Safe Opening Resources

COVID in Elementary and Secondary Schools: According to the current literature, 3 feet may not be sufficient physical distancing (and 6 feet may not always be sufficient) in spaces like schools where there are long durations of exposure without hospital-grade air filtration. In addition, it’s critical to have accurate, timely case data to inform decisions about in-person and remote teaching. For this to happen, we need better alignment between reporting from local jurisdictions, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA) and MA Department of Public Health. This project involves examination and communication of the literature on distancing, as well as providing support to local public health and school districts on description of COVID case reporting.

Fact Sheets on Safe Opening of K-12 Schools: (Samantha Blakemore, Mentor: Dr. Ellie Murray) As part of the safe opening team, students are creating a series of infographics and fact sheets to help staff and families be prepared.

Safe Opening Guidelines for an Outdoor Art Exhibition (Leona Ofei; Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Weuve) The project provided and evaluated safe opening guidelines for an outdoor art exhibition, Crossroads Carnival, involving participant artists across the country. Epidemiology and communication expertise were used to evaluate website content and information packet details and provided recommendations for safe performances.


Vaccine Resources

A COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Method Guide: Infographics on the three methods of COVID-19 vaccine delivery (Taylor Paiva, Sharon Casey)

Types of Vaccines: Infographics to explain the basics of immune response and the different kinds of vaccines that are being developed (Nikitha Ramesh)

Understanding the New Vaccines: Infographics on new vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson (Taylor Paiva)


Other Resources

Biobank Factsheet at Boston Medical Center (Marcela Quintanilla-Dieck & Sharon Casey; Mentor: Lynsie Ranker) In partnership with the COVID Biorepository initiative at Boston Medical Center, students developed a fact sheet to help inform potential participants on key details regarding the biobank including: what a biobank is, how the COVID-19 biobank hopes to advance knowledge of COVID-19 and related health outcomes, and the steps the researchers take to protect participant samples and information.

COVID-19 Cartoon Infographics: Informational posters made by Dr Ellie Murray in collaboration with Dr Benjamin Linas, Dr Charles Williams, the Boston Medical Center (@THE_BMC), and others. These infographics are distributed via EPIC with patient discharge sheets, provided to patients upon COVID-related hospitalization, and available at some COVID testing sites and community health centers in the Boston area.