Description of the Use of the Incident Command System Among Public Health Agencies Responding to COVID-19
Sarah Elizabeth Scales, Roxanna Fouladi, and Jennifer A. Horney
University of Delaware
100 Discovery Blvd, Room 731, Newark, Delaware 19713, USA
The utilization of Incident Command Systems (ICS) and Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) in public health emergency and disaster response are cornerstones of the capabilities prescribed for Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP). To assess the use of ICS and EOCs by public health agencies during the COVID-19 response, we conducted a content analysis of online materials available from 62 health departments funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for PHEP. Bivariate associations between evidence of ICS utilization in COVID response were assessed using relative risk regression. Risk ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were reported. 58% (36 of 62) of PHEP grantees had accessible information regarding the use of ICS in COVID-19 public health response. PHEP grantees with online information about PHEP, Hospital Preparedness Program linkages, public health seats at state or jurisdictional EOCs, exercises, and ICS generally were more likely to have COVID-specific ICS information. COVID-19 has placed significant strain on the operational response capacity of public health agencies. Given that this is the most significant event in which PHEP Capabilities have been tested, both in terms of geographic spread and duration, assessment of both preparedness and response capacities is critical for recognizing strengths and addressing shortcomings to improve PHEP operations in future incidents.
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