Submitted by dasko2 on Thu, 03/19/2020 - 15:11


Understanding the Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

VCM 617

Instructors: James Lowe, Yvette Johnson, Will Sander, Brian Aldridge

Course Description

This course is designed to help students apply the principles of virology, immunology, public health, data science and population medicine in evaluating the current public health policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the learning activities will focus on current events and daily topics, they will be altered and refined to align with unfolding circumstances and policy decisions.

The learning activities will provide students with a model foundation of competency and confidence which they would need to serve on a local, community health advisory board and provide expertise in support of the design of a coordinated response to mitigate the impact of a COVID-19 outbreak on patient health, societal well-being, business continuity and economic durability.

The competency foundation will include:

  • An understanding of viral biology, host defense and infectious disease dynamics.
  • Recognize factors that influence infectious disease transmission within and between livestock production systems.
  • An appreciation of the different:
    • Political, demographic, educational, attitudinal, behavioral, socioeconomic, and cultural factors, along with the inherent disparities and preferences that impact health risk and community compliance to public health recommendations
    • Needs and constraints of local businesses owners
    • Barriers to public participation and communication

Mode of Teaching

This course is fully online using Compass 2g ( supported by Blackboard. The content will be presented as text, videos, and other media. The course covers the same amount of material that would be expected if the class were a traditional campus-based course. Due to the nature of online learning, students must be diligent about their learning, engaging often and actively.

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • find reliable sources of health information and critically evaluate them
  • design and create implementation plans for biosecurity and infection control practices
  • formulate specific clinical questions with testable hypotheses
  • determine proper sampling and testing strategies to answer specific clinical questions
  • explain the public health policy making process and describe how those policies impact medical decisions
  • effectively summarize, analyze and communicate complicated medical/scientific issues to the general public and other professionals
  • Demonstrate the ability to create a contingency plan in an effort of emergency preparedness

Specific Learning Activities

  • Biology of COVID-19 infection
  • Dynamics of COVID-19 transmission
  • The SIR triangle
  • Biology of host health defense
  • Outbreak management strategies
  • Key social and behavioral determinants of health
  • Key steps of an outbreak investigation
  • Assessment of population health status using available data
  • Health care plans for individuals with low, rising and high-risk issues
  • The role of public policy in managing disease outbreaks
  • Socioeconomic barriers and disparities in health awareness, accessibility and care
  • Political, cultural and economic influences on health care

Course Overview

Course Structure Overview

9-10am: Synchronized class discussion around that day’s module topic, current events and the daily assignment.

10-12pm: Students work in assigned groups to solve the question of the day.

12pm-1pm: Student groups check in with graduate assistant/instructor

1-3pm: Students collect data, refine group argument, and prepare presentation for class

3:30-4:30pm: Synchronized class meeting

Course Requirements

  • Required Textbook

There is no required textbook.

  • Technical Requirements

Knowledge of and operation of a computer is the students’ personal responsibility.

You will need:

  • A reliable device.
  • High-speed internet connection: e.g. DSL or Cable.
  • Supported web browser: e.g. a recent version of Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.
  • Access Microsoft Office 365 (Net ID and password needed) & have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed.
  • Minimum technical skills: At a minimum, students must possess the ability to navigate Blackboard.  This includes accessing course content, posting to a discussion board, and completing online assignments, quizzes, self-assessments, etc.


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