Surveilling the impact of local public health on COVID- 19: A model and application for capturing high-resolution insights from the front-lines during a pandemic
Local public health units, which are often buried within large health care authorities or municipal governments, have proved to be indispensable during the COVID‑19 pandemic. In cities and towns throughout Canada, local public health units are responsible for implementing provincial and federal COVID‑19 recommendations. These activities by local public units have led to unprecedented consequences for the operations of public health units themselves, and for the community. Unfortunately, there is currently no way to measure the activities of public health units and their impacts. This is unfortunate because such information would be very useful for researchers and decision-makers to learn from. We propose to undertake “public health policy surveillance” to capture local public health activities themselves and their consequences on CoVID-19 outcomes. First, we will use surveys and interviews to gather information from front-line public health experts. We will access those experts through our front-line public health network research partners, whose public units serve over two-thirds of the Canadian population. Through our surveys and interviews, we will 1) have baseline data on local public health activities, 2) learn how to collect this information regularly to understand local public health operations and outcomes, and 3) improve pandemic responses in the future.