RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Global Health Expert at RTI International, Pia MacDonald, MPH, PhD, is using her experience from past epidemics to track the potential spread and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic continues, there is uncertainty around what a new normal will look like, but maintaining efforts to widely test for the virus, physical distance, wear face coverings, and practice effective handwashing can continue to help curb the spread.
Local officials across the U.S. will make decisions in the coming weeks and months about sending student populations back to school. The ability to send students back to school environments will depend on tracking several metrics behind the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact within each state. Dr. MacDonald has closely followed the path of COVID-19 and can speak to the trajectory of the pandemic nationally and internationally, the indicators officials should be monitoring when considering re-opening measures, outbreak response and containment, public health interventions and disease prevention.
Using real data and on-the-ground experience from the epicenter of past infectious disease outbreaks, Dr. MacDonald has provided comment for articles in several media outlets such as Vox, The New York Times, NPR, NBC, ABC, Kaiser Health News, iHeart Radio, on her research of the coronavirus thus far.
In her current role, Dr. MacDonald’s work is focused on emerging infectious diseases and strengthening capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to disease outbreaks. She has an extensive experience in infectious disease epidemiology and surveillance, global health security, public health preparedness, and outbreak investigation and response.
She is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Gillings School of Global Public Health and previously served as a 10-year faculty member.
Dr. MacDonald has served as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer within the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, led projects funded by the CDC, Pan American Health Organization, National Association of Country and City Health Officials, and the North Carolina Division of Public Health. She is the author of the book, Methods in Field Epidemiology (2012).
Dr. MacDonald’s work on COVID-19 includes:
- A published editorial in The News & Observer on sheltering in place.
- Panel interview for WRAL’s ‘On the Record’
- Published recommendations on fusing academia work and public health work to determine future national responses to health security threats.
- Commentary on the future of real-time disease surveillance in California Magazine from Berkeley Alumni.
- A published editorial in The Washington post about the benefit of shut-downs.
- Providing subject matter expertise for RTI’s recent surveys on public perceptions of COVID-19.
- Providing subject matter expertise for COVID-19 modelling in North Carolina.
- Data visualization and epidemiologic intelligence for COVID-19 outbreak response.
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