In the first article of our COVID-19 series, we highlighted the importance of getting organized around data, expertise and strategy as we try to manage, learn from and adopt to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, we highlighted prevailing confusion around data, wide disparities in utilization of expertise, and only a partially defined overarching strategy.
In this second piece, we delve deeper into the topic of applying data to the COVID-19 discussion.
Crises are associated with an inherent level of disorganization and chaos – that is why they are crises.
Crises also tend to move at lightning speed. Focus on everything and you will quickly get overwhelmed.
Focus too narrowly and you may soon find that your chosen strategy becomes obsolete – perhaps a wonderful solution to yesterday’s problem that is no longer relevant today. Despite being a tall order, so much of successfully responding to a crisis is predicated upon focusing on the right variables at the right time.
What we have seen so far in our response to COVID-19 is that we have been consistently behind the curve. Too slow to acknowledge the issue originally, too slow to mobilize expertise and deploy resources, too slow to react to changing phases of the situation, and frequently overly focused on concepts and metrics that ranged from being outdated to premature.
When we were all relaxed in December 2019 as news of the virus was beginning to circulate, we should have been panicking. Our panic button eventually did go off several months later – though perhaps delayed, the panic-induced call to action was better late than never. But, by the time we were panicking,
we ideally would have been past that phase and into the slightly calmer, more sober-minded phase of an organized response. In many ways, by the time we panicked, the virus had already set its course. We have seen lots of statistics and projection models put forth over the past several weeks. We are not coming at this piece from the perspective of being an expert infectious disease physician or an outbreak researcher. And, though the topic of piece is data, our main focus is actually not really about numbers – rather, it is about analyzing the effectiveness of our approach and frameworks for utilizing data in the context of this pandemic.