For two years, Dr. Joe Gerald from the Zuckerman College of Public Health has worked collaboratively with colleagues around the state to produce a weekly Arizona COVID data report in order to keep leadership at all levels informed of pandemic conditions and guide decisions for public health and safety in our state.
In public health, we know that solid, accurate data is fundamentally important for an effective, strategic response to any public health challenge. When COVID-19 hit Arizona, leaders in government, healthcare, schools and community organizations needed good data to understand the spread of the virus so they could make mitigation decisions and save lives. Joe Gerald, MD, PhD, Associate Professor & Program Director, Public Health Policy & Management, responded to that need. He recruited colleagues around the state to help him with a weekly report on Arizona’s COVID data numbers, and he’s been compiling that weekly report for two years, since March 2020!
Now that the omicron surge has subsided, Dr. Gerald published his final Arizona COVID data report on March 5, 2022. Across the past two years, his weekly reports served as a guide for decision makers at the university, city, county, and state levels during the pandemic and helped inform community members about the ever-changing pandemic conditions. He says that his “primary motivation for producing the reports was to ensure local, state, and federal policymakers had accurate, actionable information and policy recommendations to help them protect their constituents and communities.”
Often, journalists at the local, state, and national level tracked his reports and used the numbers in their reporting about the pandemic. Again and again, Dr. Gerald gave his time and expertise to talk to the media and keep the public informed about the status of the virus and the policies needed to stop the spread. Over the past two years he has given hundreds of interviews.
Dr. Gerald is thankful for his colleague at the university, regionally, and around the state who have done so much to help produce the weekly reports. In his own words:
I want to thank everyone for their support over the past 2 years. Some specific mentions include my colleague Patrick Wightman who has steadfastly manhandled the data from ADHS. Also a shout-out to Rob Bailey and Tim Flood at ADHS who have organized and overseen the work of our tri-university modeling group. Without them, our reports would not have been possible. They have done an incredible job managing, integrating, and distributing the myriad of data streams. Much thanks!! Also to my UA, ASU, and NAU colleagues who have done their own work plus providing me ideas/suggestions for my reports. Of course, locally – Terry Cullen and Francisco Garcia who have helped with data and insights from Pima County. To the ICU/critical care physicians at Banner University Medical Center who have allowed me to listen in to their twice weekly COVID-19 huddles and kept me apprised of workload and clinical trends. Also, thanks to the MEZCOPH IT and media relations folks who have helped distribute and archive these reports. I’m sure there are others – I apologize for not recognizing your contributions.
Dr. Joe Gerald received the Public Health Research Award from the Arizona Public Health Association in 2021, an award that recognizes a person or team whose research contributes to the advancement of public health science or practice in the state. He also received the 2021 Extraordinary Faculty Award for his outstanding commitment to COVID-19 response in Arizona. Additionally, Dr. Gerald is co-chair of the UArizona Public Health Advisory COVID Team (PHACT), which was presented with a 2021 UArizona Team Award for Excellence.
Thank you Dr. Gerald for your amazing service to our communities and our state, and for your steadfast dedication to public health!