In my opinion, the biggest communication mistakes related to the COVID-19 are covered in the following principles from the chapter reading: 1) Commitment to effective communications 2) Transparency in communications 3) Ensure public information is accurate 4) Establishing an emotional connection and 5) Increasing accessibility to technical experts. I think the primary reason these mistakes were made were due to a lack of preparation and prioritization of the global pandemic possibility and also the presence of competing priorities (in the beginning) for the administration. As the video points out, one of the most significant flaws was the elimination and the shifting of responsibilities of the global health and pandemic response teams from the National Security Council (NSC) to the department of human and health services (DHHS). Of course, there was a lot that wasn’t known about the virus at first and the CDC and even the World Health Organization (WHO) issued conflicting guidance and communications that were later walked back (surface transmission, etc) and some of that is bound to happen with ever-evolving situations such as pandemics, but the preparedness and clear- messaging was certainly missing from the United States in the early month.

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Reply to the 2 posts below 200 words each – DISASTER COMMUNICATION COURSE

  • Ask a probing question
  • Share an insight from having read your colleague’s posting
  • Offer and support an opinion
  • Validate an idea with your own experience
  • Make a suggestion
  • Expand on your colleague’s posting

Post 1:

Several mistakes were made early on in the pandemic, but the one I want to address is the inability of the public to accept that doctors are not omniscient. This has bugged me for months. As I work to vaccinate the Coast Guard, I hear several themes repeated. One goes like this… “Why should I believe what the CDC or any medical professional says now? They couldn’t make up their minds before, what would make me think they know what’s up with the vaccine?”

Everything that I’ve read about pandemic communications strategies insists that building trust with the public is critical and must be done early on, ideally even before an event takes place. In my opinion, transparency and honesty are fundamental to building trust. COVID-19 spread faster than doctors could learn about it. People started dying before the medical professionals were able to understand it. And the face of communications for a mysterious, potentially deadly, ghostly unknown faced a horrible challenge of balancing cautiousness against panic, of authority against fallibility.

For our leadership, the people we trust, the authorities on all things health and medical to admit they don’t know undermines their confidence and the public’s. But it was true and I prefer to hear someone say they don’t know, and they are working as fast as they can to get more information. They weren’t lying!! And not knowing is ok! We, the public, couldn’t be patient enough to let the professionals learn more. At this point in my tirade I could blame the 24 hour news cycle, the politicians looking out for their constituents (and the next election) and/or the lack of general education or transparent communications from the CDC. I posit that it is all of these things that conspired to severely limit the American public’s willingness to believe the science and get vaccinated.

“Creating a Communication Strategy for Pandemic Influenza” Pan American Health Organization https://www.paho.org/hq/dmdocuments/2010/PAHO_CommStrategy_Eng.pdfLinks to an external site.

“Communicating During an Outbreak or Public Health Investigation” Abbigail J. Tumpey, David Daigle, and Glen Nowak; The CDC Field Epidemiology Manual; https://www.cdc.gov/eis/field-epi-manual/chapters/Communicating-Investigation.htmlLinks to an external site.

Disaster Communications in a Changing Media World, Chapter 5, Page 76

Post 2:

In my opinion, the biggest communication mistakes related to the COVID-19 are covered in the following principles from the chapter reading: 1) Commitment to effective communications 2) Transparency in communications 3) Ensure public information is accurate 4) Establishing an emotional connection and 5) Increasing accessibility to technical experts. I think the primary reason these mistakes were made were due to a lack of preparation and prioritization of the global pandemic possibility and also the presence of competing priorities (in the beginning) for the administration. As the video points out, one of the most significant flaws was the elimination and the shifting of responsibilities of the global health and pandemic response teams from the National Security Council (NSC) to the department of human and health services (DHHS). Of course, there was a lot that wasn’t known about the virus at first and the CDC and even the World Health Organization (WHO) issued conflicting guidance and communications that were later walked back (surface transmission, etc) and some of that is bound to happen with ever-evolving situations such as pandemics, but the preparedness and clear- messaging was certainly missing from the United States in the early month.

 

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