COVID-19: Reopening Public Health and the Economy

As global economies gradually reopen, how are governments balancing economic recovery with concerns for public health? This event brought together scholars from economics, public health, and political science to discuss how different regions of the globe are approaching the complex demands of reopening.

Joseph Allen, Assistant Professor of Exposure Assessment Science, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

  •  Addressed keeping people safe at work focusing on “healthy buildings” and how to communicate to the public through a hierarchy of controls strategy. They are:
    • Eliminate the hazard: prioritize work-from-home strategies
    • Substitution: identify core group of people who have to go back to work first
    • Engineering: healthy building strategies
    • Administrative: maintain physical distancing

Judyth Twigg, Professor of Political Science, Virginia Commonwealth University

  • Discussed political drivers and implications that have happened in Russia during the pandemic. Much like many countries, Russia is balancing economic, political, and public health imperatives. Political and economic factors seem to be leading priorities.

Karl Lauterbach, Professor of Health Economics and Epidemiology, University of Cologne

  • Highlighted the importance of a transparency campaign employed by the German parliament to communicate and share regular scientific updates with the public. Germany was hit later by the pandemic behind Spain, Italy, and China. Therefore, the pandemic response was able to be quicker and enacted a severe lock down.

Yasheng Huang, Epoch Foundation Professor of International Management and Faculty Director of Action Learning, MIT Sloan School of Management

  • Addressed lessons learned on how China has responded to the pandemic. The geographic concentration of COVID-19 was very high regionally in China compared to the United States. This was due to the containment measures enacted which points to its effectiveness. It is necessary to close the economy fairly dramatically in order to reopen it.

Winnie (Chi-Man) Yip, Professor of the Practice of Global Health Policy and Economics, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Co-sponsored by the Harvard China Health Partnership, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, and the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute.

– A recording of the event is available here.