It was one year ago today that the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. The announcement from Director-General Tedros Adhanom carried a clear sense that no aspect of life as we know it would remain unaffected.
“This is not just a public health crisis; it is a crisis that will touch every sector—so every sector and every individual must be involved in the fight,” Adhanom said.
At RTI International, we had been monitoring the situation since the first reports that a “novel coronavirus” had been infecting residents of Wuhan, China, in late December 2019. With a deep concern for global public health, and a workforce of more than 5,000 to look out for, we knew this was no ordinary outbreak.
The same week as the WHO announcement, we sent the majority of our worldwide staff members home for an unknown period of remote working. While our headquarters in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and our offices around the world emptied, our work never stopped.
As an institute committed to improving the human condition, we are ideally suited to not only be involved in the fight against COVID-19, but to lead it. Our experts in epidemiology, public health, international development, engineering, economics, survey research, data analysis, communication, and many other fields met the moment and will continue to contribute to the solutions the world needs as it emerges from the crisis.
The response to the COVID-19 pandemic is the story of our year. It is the fight of our lives. As we reflect on a year of battling COVID-19, the work goes on, and we will never be the same.
The following are some of RTI’s key achievements from a year unlike any other.
Now working from home, away from their usual desks and teams, RTI’s survey professionals quickly assessed the new reality. How would they keep collecting data from thousands of sources despite the upheaval? For the people involved in the EIA Gas Price Survey, advanced preparation for disasters and disruptions ensured that they could maintain their intense weekly schedule. The teams working on our postsecondary education surveys juggled the sudden office closure, shifting federal deadlines, and general disruption among the students and educational institutions they support.