Big Island Coronavirus Updates

UH Study: Hawaiʻi’s COVID Models, Responses, Lessons Learned

May 25, 2022, 4:00 PM HST
* Updated May 25, 1:22 PM
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One of the first comprehensive studies of the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response has identified key takeaways to inform policymakers how to better respond in the event of another pandemic.

The study, written by a group from the Hawaiʻi Pandemic Applied Modeling Work Group chaired by University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa faculty member Victoria Fan and which included UH-Mānoa researchers, examined different COVID-19 prediction models followed by subsequent policy decisions and lessons learned from the process. The methodology and data were based on a review of historical facts and real-world events through experiences of the study’s authors.

Key takeaways from the case study include:

  • COVID-19 modeling in Hawaiʻi benefited from the incorporation of state-specific data.
  • The models are dynamic and should be interpreted as such.
  • After considering model outputs and issuing appropriate warnings, actions should be taken immediately.
  • These models require a firm grasp of epidemiologic concepts; therefore, policymakers should involve an interdisciplinary scientific advisory group as early as possible to translate models into actionable items.
  • There is a need for communicators who help translate and communicate complex ideas into simple concepts for policymakers and the public.

“This case study is intended to and may help future policymakers seeking to navigate this complex landscape of models and draw upon practical lessons learned on how to make appropriate evidence-based decisions using models,” the “Mitigation Planning and Policies Informed by COVID-19 Modeling: A Framework and Case Study of the State of Hawaii” study said.

The case study was recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Authors included experts from the UH-Mānoa Thompson School of Social Work and Public Health, Hawaiʻi Data Collaborative, UH-Mānoa Department of Mathematics, UH-Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine, state Department of Health, state Department of Defense and the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C.

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The study’s authors said COVID will continue to affect the community for decades.

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“Policymakers will need to shift from the use of models that focus on hospital capacity and reopening, to models identifying long-term health and economic impacts of COVID-19, such as mental health, access to non-COVID-19 health care services, education, and other dimensions of the social determinants of health.”

To read the study and learn more, click here.

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