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CFA partners with many organizations, both private and public, to develop innovative solutions to improve our nation’s outbreak response and public health emergency preparedness. Our Center is committed to bringing decision-makers together to create relationships and networks that will help our nation stop the next outbreak before it happens.

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Engaging with State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial (STLT) Partners

CFA conducted several focus groups to engage STLT partners in providing feedback on CFA’s early analyses and technical products produced during the COVID-19 Omicron wave.

General Comments/Observations

  • CFA’s Role
    • Partners hope CFA will add to existing capacity and not aim to replace any existing communities or modeling staff in programs at CDC.
    • Partners expressed that it’s important CFA prioritize openness and transparency with STLT partners and the public.
    • Partners expressed interest in making the results of CFA’s forecasting and analytics more broadly available, especially to their jurisdictions.
    • Partners felt strongly about not wanting CFA to prioritize publishing, data hoarding, etc. during peacetime and/or times of crisis. Instead, focus on helping the public.
    • Partners expressed that scenario-based modeling is more useful that prediction forecasting.​

      • Scenario models from CFA can be a more flexible tool to understand future scenarios​

    • Partners see value in CFA developing and standardizing a tool to survey state or local populations to get clarity on public health issues (i.e., vaccine hesitancy) ​

    • Partners see value in a tool which can help predict hospitalization rates and inform surge planning needs​

  • Effectiveness of Tools
    • Partners felt that tools (such as nowcasting, reproductive number, descriptive analyses, etc.) that can conduct analyses at state and local levels will be a significant value-add, especially for public health departments who lack the funds/resources to develop them on their own.
    • Partners expressed that local governments appreciate having dashboards and that there is ‘significant’ use of dashboards at the local level to drive decision making.
    • Partners emphasized that the effectiveness of these provided tools are dependent on data collection and expertise within state/local health departments so it will be important for CFA to consider adaptability and regionality at state/local levels.
    • Partners felt that it’s helpful when CDC partners with stakeholders to conduct studies that can be extrapolated, especially for complex topics such as masking, vaccination, etc.
  • Barriers
    • Partners felt that one of the largest barriers to quickly reacting to outbreak events is the lag time between data collection and reporting, for example discrepancies in the data of specimen collection vs date of report.
    • Some participants were concerned with the granularity of data; more granular data is helpful at state/local levels, but not always available.
    • Participants were concerned with the lack of expertise/resources in smaller, rural counties. They recommended that ‘Plug and play’ model for data forecasting could address this issue (e.g., developing tools which don’t require knowledge of programming languages).


  • Integration
    • Partners expressed interest in having data tools developed in multiple “languages” to avoid issue of state/local health departments using different programming languages.
    • Partners emphasized a need for defining standards across state and local health departments (e.g., definitions, cut-offs, parameters) to ensure appropriate comparison.
    • Partners wished for an explanation of data inputs and assumptions of the model before disseminating.
    • Resounding belief that creating trainings and/or videos on interpreting a model will aid partners in providing effective, reliable resources for the public to utilize.
  • Data and Reports
    • Partners strongly value information on how interventions can be expected to impact case growth rate in some models.
    • Partners would like CFA’s commentary on the impact of mitigation efforts and potential policy implications with provided models.
    • Partners suggested adding other data sources such as tele-tracking, Google searches, and social media.
    • Partners shared a keen interest in implementing wastewater surveillance data to models
    • Partners believe shifting focus to hospitalization and deaths is more beneficial for forecasting as home tests become more common.
    • Partners would like CFA to think through how the center can develop upstream solutions to make data quality more robust and incorporate health equity factors​

  • Communication
    • Partners strongly believe scientific papers aren’t always the most streamlined form of communication. Rather, it is more helpful when CDC develops one-pagers and basic descriptions to be disseminated by public health departments.
    • Partners expressed an interest in holding regular science briefings with Q&A where pre-published studies can be highlighted and provide a more targeted focus on outbreak events.
    • Partners need communication support for politicized and/or controversial interventions and outcomes. They would value well-developed communications tools that show effectiveness of interventions/policy would be valuable.
    • Partners expressed interest in having liaisons from CFA to assist in tailoring communications to different audiences (e.g., data modelers and communication specialists)​

CFA's 101 for Industry Event

The Center for Forecasting & Outbreak Analytics (CFA) hosted this event to connect with industry leaders and share information about the new center. The agenda for the day includes a keynote speech from Dr. Nirav Shah, presentations by CFA leadership, and panels of industry leaders focused on technology relevant to disease forecasting, modeling, and outbreak analytics.  Event Video Part One | Event Video Part Two | Slides from Event [4.2 MB, 65 pages]

Page last reviewed: September 21, 2022