Community of Practice Updates

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*If you have questions about the NSSP CoP, its highly collaborative user groups, the NSSP CoP Slack Workspace (a collaboration platform), or syndromic surveillance, please email logo

New CDC Grant Provides Opportunity to Strengthen U.S. Public Health Infrastructure, Workforce, and Data Systems CDC’s OE22-2203: Strengthening U.S. Public Health Infrastructure, Workforce, and Data Systemsexternal icon grant will provide funding to improve critical public health infrastructure needs. This investment, a key component of the  American Rescue Plan fundingexternal icon, will help ensure that U.S. public health systems are ready to respond to public health emergencies like COVID-19 and meet the evolving and complex needs of the communities and populations they serve. 

Link: Workforce Resources for Organizations


The NSSP CoP held its monthly meeting on February 23, 2022. On average, 100 to 120 people attend these meetings. View recordings of the monthly CoP callsexternal icon. Or you may directly access the February 2022 “What’s New with NSSP?” recordingexternal icon.

Announcements and Reminders

  • NSSP CoP Slack Workspace
    • New channel added: #sas-user
    • New users have immediate access to all channels; established Slack users can join new channels by opening
      Slack > More > Channel Browser > Join.
  • Technical Subcommittee Renamed Technical Workgroup
    The NSSP CoP Technical Subcommittee has been retitled and will now function as the Technical Workgroup. Members will continue to meet monthly and facilitate discussion between CDC NSSP and the community. The Technical Workgroup looks out for the community’s interests by making sure data management, analyses, visualization, and reporting needs are being communicated and met.
    • Workgroup members have asked to update the enhancement list to reflect the JIRA tickets submitted during the pandemic. In response, the NSSP team is working on how best to share this information with the workgroup and broader community.
    • Workgroup minutes are posted in the #technical Slack channel.
    • In February, the Technical Workgroup reviewed and prioritized 12 ESSENCE enhancement tickets (3 high, 1 medium, and 5 low). The workgroup closed out 3 tickets: (1) added state prefix to weather station names; (2) created a list of specific records (via tagging); and (3) moved from a time-series view to data details for two separate queries (Note: If data are slow to load, you can avoid this by going to data details queries, if that is your primary interest).
  • Volunteers Needed! CSTE and Kahuina Consulting to Develop Training Series for Summer 2022
    Curriculum-based trainings on syndromic surveillance will be developed for novice and advanced learners. The on-demand training series will build knowledge and skills across the “data-to-action” continuum and include hands-on skill-building exercises. The intent is to build the participant’s ability to describe where data come from, assess data quality, apply standard methods and tools to a range of public health domains and foci, and interpret data for improved decision making.
    • CSTE seeks community help to identify training content, methods, and faculty.
    • To get involved, please email
  • Registration Open for 2022 CSTE Annual Conference; Louisville, Kentucky; June 19–23, 2022. Conference will be a hybrid of in-person and virtual sessions; for details, visit icon
  • Election of Core Committee Deputy Chair Coming Soon
    The Core Committee is seeking a new Deputy Chair. Duties will include:
    • assisting the Core Committee Chair by developing agendas and facilitating discussion during monthly meetings;
    • working closely with Core Committee members to achieve working goals;
    • supporting NSSP CoP group activities;
    • moderating monthly NSSP CoP calls; and
    • reviewing and commenting on documents pertaining to the NSSP CoP (e.g., administrative process documents, NSSP CoP group-developed products, and CSTE syndromic surveillance project deliverables).

The desired nominee will be an NSSP CoP member; will be an employee of a state, tribal, local, or territorial public health department; and have knowledge about how syndromic surveillance systems are developed and operated. Ideally, the nominee will have experience using the NSSP BioSense Platform (and processes) and related tools. Nominees should have experience translating technical innovations into public health practice. Nominees should also have effective verbal and written communication skills and want to champion the use of syndromic surveillance to improve public health practice.

On March 18, 2022, CSTE sent out a call for nominations. Members will have 2 weeks to nominate qualified individuals. Candidates may self-nominate. Voting will be open for 2 weeks. The new Deputy Chair will serve through July 2023.


  • New Capability of R-Shiny Environment for Report Sharing
    Presenter: Aaron Kite-Powell (CDC NSSP)
    The R-Shiny application enables NSSP to share reports with the community. These include daily reports and weekly reports on COVID-related state trajectories, maps, trends, and anomalies. Note: Only those with Access and Management Center (AMC) accounts can view these reports via the R-Shiny application.
    • In addition to reports, community members can access ad hoc analyses:
      1. Go to icon and log in with AMC credentials.
      2. Select Coronavirus Exploratory Dashboard.
      3. From the left-hand navigation pane, select Reports, and under Ad Hoc Analyses, select the area you’re interested in.
  • Syndrome Co-Occurrence with COVID Report
    Presenter: Kelly Carey (CDC NSSP)
    The Co-Occurring Chief Complaint and Discharge Diagnosis (CCDD) Categories, Syndromes, and Subsyndromes of COVID-Specific DD v1 Emergency Department Visits ad hoc analysis is now available to R-Shiny application users. The NSSP team demonstrated how this exploratory analytic method could be used to see the distribution of COVID-specific DD v1 encounters across CC and DD categories, syndromes, and subsyndromes during three periods: pre-Delta visits from December 20, 2020–January 09, 2021; Delta visits from August 15, 2021–September 04, 2021; and Omicron visits from December 19, 2021–January 08, 2022.
  • Weighted Log Odds Symptom Change Analysis Across Variant Periods
    Presenter: Michael Sheppard (CDC NSSP)
    An ad hoc analysis available to R-Shiny application users is the Weighted Log Odds Symptom Change Analysis Across Variant Periods. Using this method, national data are pulled from the Facility Location (Full Details) data source by CDC COVID-Specific DD v1 CCDD category. Encounters are limited to emergency department (ED) visits from January 1, 2021–January 30, 2022. Standard stop words included in “stop_words from tidytext” are removed as are uninformative terms in chief complaints (i.e., encounters, unspecified, and patient). This analysis aims to identify chief complaint symptom-based terms potentially indicative of the Omicron COVID-19 variant relative to pre-Delta and Delta periods spanning January–December 5, 2021.

The following analyses are included: Top 10 weighted log odds ratios comparing pre-Delta, Delta, and Omicron periods (weighted log odds ratios computed for CC and DD unigrams and bigrams) and weekly time series showing n-gram proportions for top 10 n-grams in each period.

One symptom that stood out among adolescent females is atypical increases in visits related to tic disorders. More on the complexity of tic disorders can be found in “Rising Incidence of Functional Tic-Like Behaviors. What’s happening? Why now?”external iconexternal icon

  • User Interface Redesign
    Presenter: Wayne Loschen (Johns Hopkins University–Applied Physics Laboratory, JHU–APL)
    • The JHU–APL development team is working on the user interface and experience (UIUX) redesign for NSSP–ESSENCE.
    • The team is conducting interviews to solicit feedback on the redesign.
    • Community members are encouraged to share their ESSENCE “wish lists” with the NSSP team by emailing
Join the NSSP CoP Slack Workspace
Slack Channels

It’s easy to join.external icon And the community is always exchanging ideas, exploring possibilities, and discussing topics relevant to today’s surveillance challenges.

So what are your colleagues discussing?

  • #covid19
  • #data-lab
  • #data-sharing
  • #data-quality
  • #drug-overdose-use
  • #environmental-health
  • #essence-user
  • #general
  • #hospital-admissions
  • #planned-analyses-and-publications
  • #national-data-requests-sop
  • #nssp-cop
  • #race-and-ethnicity
  • #random
  • #r-user
  • #sas-user
  • #severe-weather
  • #spherr
  • #syndrome-definitions
  • #training
  • #violence-surveillance

Find and Join Channels

      1. Hover cursor over “Channels” on left side of Slack space.
      2. Click the three dots icon that appears next to “Channels” titled “Section Options.”
      3. Select “Browse Channels.”
      4. Find and join any channel that looks interesting!
Data Modernization Initiative

“Modernization” of our public health data and surveillance systems is one way in which CDC invests in the future of public health.

The CDC Public Health Data Modernization Initiative lays out a path to move us toward integrated systems that provide data more efficiently for public health action. This framework guides decisions for allocating resources to create interoperable systems (federal, state, local, and healthcare), coordinate investments across CDC (and with partners), develop next-generation tools (e.g., modeling, visualization, machine learning), and strengthen predictive analytics and forecasting. One objective of DMI is for syndromic surveillance to give a faster understanding of emerging health threats through electronic reporting of emergency department visits.

“This is a moment in time when our national leaders will seek to identify or build platforms to detect and monitor future health threats,” NSSP Lead Loren Rodgers said during a 2021 NSSP Community of Practice call. “I’d like to challenge the NSSP community to consider our place in a new public health infrastructure. I don’t know of another program that is so purpose-built for this task with the ability to scale to include new data sources and analytics and to share these data with allied [public health] jurisdictions and trusted partners. Our syndromic community exemplifies innovative approaches that other surveillance systems aim to implement.”

CDC’s earlier modernization efforts laid the groundwork that supports NSSP’s current approach to surveillance and—bolstered by CDC’s Data Modernization Initiative—positions the program to better protect our country from all types of public health threats.

Page last reviewed: March 23, 2022