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#2020APPAM Blog: COVID-19 and Evidence-Based Policymaking


by Kiwoong Yoo, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Marketing Ph.D. Student

As the number of cases tops 160,000 in the U.S., today’s Super Session gathered scholars and policymakers to discuss how new sources of data, new analytic approaches, and new research have provided much information about COVID-19’s economic and social effects as well as its influence on policy decision making. The panelists further discussed the challenges of gathering and utilizing data in a timely and actionable manner. Dr. Julia Lane, a Professor at the New York University, moderated a fascinating discussion with four panelists.

The first takeaway was that COVID-19 has impacted the U.S. differently with regards to data collection and analysis across time within different infrastructures. Oxiris Barbot, points to how New York City has a robust technological infrastructure for gathering data from hospitals and laboratories which helped the city gain information by the hour. She realized that data from early childhood centers were also quite important because as businesses were closing, many mothers were leaving the labor force, and it was critical to look at these childhood centers and small businesses. Kosali Simon shared how the state of Indiana collaborated with its health care center and shared information about ventilators and other resources.    

The second takeaway was that COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the lack of government infrastructure to effectively collect data. Nick Hart explained how the U.S. has a law that gives way for agencies to link their data and share resources, but currently, these rules and strategies do not exist yet. The federal government doesn’t have data linking capabilities, but he is optimistic because these changes can happen right away if leadership takes action. Kosali Simon points to the importance of how the U.S. needs better systems at all levels of government to make good sense of the data. And lastly, there needs to be better incentives for social and computer science researchers to get their studies on the pandemic published. Currently, journals are quite slow to review these types of papers regarding COVID-19, which truly require speed.

In summary, the diversity in the panelists’ experience and background gave to a comprehensive and exciting discussion regarding COVID-19’s economic and social effects with regards to collecting relevant data and analyzing them.

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