CDC introduces Outbreak Forecasting Center

The center’s goal is to be like the “National Weather Service for infectious diseases,” helping to guide actions at all levels among all industries.

Facility managers and maintenance workers looking to protect the safety of their building residents often rely on weather forecasting to help them prepare for tornadoes, hurricanes, and other adverse weather conditions.

Now they can do the same for infectious disease outbreaks using the newly launched Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics (CFA).

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched the CFA to enhance the nation’s ability to use data and analytics to make timely, effective decisions in response to public health threats.

The center’s goal is to be like the “National Weather Service for infectious diseases,” helping to guide actions at all levels among all industries.

The CFA will also develop a program to provide information about infectious disease events to the public to assist them in decision-making.

“This new center is an example of how we are modernizing the ways we prepare for and respond to public health threats,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky.

“I am eager to see continued innovation in the use of data, modeling, and analytics to improve outbreak responses.”

The new forecasting and analytics center will focus on three tasks: predicting, informing, and innovating.

Using the expertise of an analytics team with experts across several disciplines, the center will develop faster, more complete evidence to predict trends and guide decision-making during public health emergencies.

CFA is currently hiring expert communicators to regularly share insights with federal, state, and local partners and the public.

It will also continue to improve the science behind outbreak data, models, and analytics to improve the nation’s ability to respond to health emergencies.

The CDC began planning for the center in August 2021, with the initial funding of US$200 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. So far, the CDC has awarded $26 million in funding to academic institutions and federal partners to advance modeling and forecasting methodology, with an emphasis on workforce development and health equity.

The CDC has already used CFA analytics prior to its official launch. In December, CFA worked with academic partners to assemble models anticipating the omicron wave and generated early estimates of omicron severity, giving leaders an opportunity to bolster their response.

This article was first published by ISSA News

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