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Coronavirus outbreak

Posted by Matthew Rehrl @matthewrehrl, Jan 26 4:39pm

I am curious about how (and why or why not) healthcare organizations are approaching the Coronavirus outbreak?

For example, is anyone placing links to the CDC Coronavirus FAQ webiste on their homepage?

Is there any effort to coordinate information regionally?

Is there an overarching social media strategy?

This Coronavirus outbreak hopefully won't become a disaster, but I think it is a good opportunity to at least consider the possibility. For example, as a reference point, the 1918-1919 Spanish flu killed 20-50 million people—and keep in mind that was before the age of airline travel.

And probably the most worrisome thing? It looks like transmission can occur from an asymptomatic person.

Anyway, Monday seems a good time for those who control the digital platform to start asking their medical folks what their thoughts are on using their digital platform to address coronavirus concerns—which, incidentally, is particularly tricky as influenza season is also gaining steam.

Finally, as a reference, I added an old graph of the effect of the Spanish
Flu on cities a hundred years ago—something to keep in mind.


Hi Matthew, we are a regional health system in PA. We asked one of our infectious disease doctors to write a brief statement about the Coronavirus and linked to the CDC site for more info. We will be providing an update this week.

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We posted a story on Thursday about a child with whooping cough. It was an infant who was too young to be vaccinated. The story was this mom opening her heart and asking people to get vaccinated. We had a clip of the child coughing. It was so sad. Well the anti-vaxxers came after us so hard. They were incredibly rude to the mom. We've been blocking and deleting posts and people going on five days. The story did great on social. The next day we ran a quick post on the coronavirus that gave the basics, said the risk was low and you are at a much greater chance of catching the flu. That story had literally 10 times the amount of views on our newsroom than the whooping cough story had. But it did seem like we calmed some nerves in our local area.


Sadly, There probably needs to be an entire workshop on vaccinations and social media at some point. I think leveraging coronavirus as a tool to discuss influenza is a pretty solid approach for now. Also having an Id voice is great too!


That's a great idea on the workshop. They can be pretty vicious. They went and took a photo from the mom's Facebook page where her baby was posing with Santa. They said maybe the mom shouldn't have had our child outside. Not to mention, the amount of false information they posted … that we deleted. We met with the stakeholders in our area who promote and provide vaccines. We send them emails before we post and ask them to respond respectfully with accurate information when they see something false. It's really changed the way we do things and we aren't in the fight alone.


One other social media/digital platform point: IMHO the CDCs website and social media platform is very, very good and I think is worth studying by healthcare industry. It’s dynamic, well integrated and mission focused. The Social Media and website folks seem to be very well coordinated, and it would be interesting to reach out to them one day? Perhaps as a speaker?


Great question @matthewrehrl. University of Nebraska Medical Center/Nebraska Medicine is a national expert in biopreparedness. We have our biocontainment unit ready to accept patients if needed, and will be providing assistance to some Americans being relocated to a facility in Nebraska for close monitoring. We have updated our websites to share news as we get it, and both our hospital CEO and university chancellor have been sharing updates frequently.

Our Division of Infectious Diseases is co-hosting a twitter chat next Wednesday February 12 at 5-6pm central time (6-7pm eastern time) to discuss the novel coronavirus. The chat is hosted by physicians weekly, and will be co-moderated by our experts in biocontainment and biopreparedness, Drs. Angela Hewlett and James Lawler. Feel free to join the chat.

Other places with good information: The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA):

I agree the CDC website is fantastic and if people do not have their own PR strategy surrounding this topic, it is a good one to just link to and drive engagement there.


I'm really enjoying reading these resources @drjmarcelin and @matthewrehrl. I've posted a News You Can Use article today about Johns Hopkins University's live dashboard that tracks coronavirus statistics. It puts it all in perspective. Here's the link
Does anyone else have any other resources?

Liked by Matthew Rehrl


This is a timely and a good primer for non-healthcare organizations considering going remote if/when Coronavirus/Covid affects their business:
Plus, you might like to see how Coinbase is approaching it, publicly sharing their plan and communication with employees:
I know these are not healthcare examples, but there might be some gems in them. I like how Coinbase shared plans for additional cleaning, especially at elevators, kitchens, and bathrooms.

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