COVID-19: Landmark Study Launched to Track US Public Health Response to Pandemic

May 6, 2020

Researchers recently launched CHASING COVID, the only national cohort study focused on the COVID-19 pandemic.

To further understand the impact of the US public health response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, researchers at The City University of New York (CUNY) recently launched the Communities, Households, and SARS/COV-2 Epidemiology (CHASING) COVID study.

Researchers at the CUNY Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health (ISPH) and the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy enrolled a cohort of >7000 people using internet-based strategies.

Overall, 23% of participants are aged ≥60 years, 24% are Black or Hispanic, 52% are men, and approximately 24% are frontline workers, either in health care or are other essential employees (eg, police, first responders, food service industry workers, transportation workers). All 50 states including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam are represented in the study.

“To our knowledge, this is the only national cohort study focused on the coronavirus pandemic,” said principal investigator Denis Nash, PhD, MPH, ISPH executive director and distinguished professor of epidemiology, CUNY School of Public Health, New York, New York, in a press release. “We believe the knowledge generated will be critical for those responding to this pandemic but also to inform the response to future pandemics.”

Participants will be contacted every month for at least 6 months to assess actions that people may take to slow COVID-19 transmission, symptoms, testing and diagnosis, preparedness, and economic and social impact, among other outcomes.

Participants will also collect dried blood spot specimens at home and return them via mail at month 1 and month 3, which will be stored for antibody testing once a validated serologic test is available.

“We need to understand the impact of the public health response to control the coronavirus pandemic, and this study will rapidly contribute to our understanding and allow us to monitor changes over time,” said lead author McKaylee Robertson, PhD, in the same press release.

We need to understand the impact of the public health response to control the coronavirus pandemic, and this study will rapidly contribute to our understanding and allow us to monitor changes over time.

Researchers will integrate publicly available county-level data on population mobility, diagnoses, and deaths with the cohort study data in order to examine how public health efforts such as social distancing regulations impact the pandemic. The longitudinal design allows for prospective estimation of the incidence of COVID-19, using antibodies to the novel virus.

“Physical distancing regulations are already being relaxed, and they will be followed by enhanced testing and subsequent contact tracing and quarantine,” continued Nash. “By rapidly deploying specimen collection for serologic tests, we will be able to characterize the effectiveness and impact of public health strategies that may be critical to controlling and mitigating the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, as well as future pandemics.”

For more COVID-19 coverage for primary care, visit our COVID-19 Resource Page.