Health crisis restrictions such as social distancing, which government and top health officials are implementing across the nation, stem from data gathered by epidemiologists. Those experts across the globe are analyzing stats from hospitals in countries slammed by COVID-19 to formulate how to control the virus’ spread.

Thomas Lee, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, explained the trends epidemiologists are now looking at.

It’s going to be important as the virus spreads, and it’s going to spread to rural communities as well, how well we can screen all of our citizens. Not just the ones living in the current hotspots.
—Lee

“Because China is five to six weeks ahead of where everyone else’s response is, (epidemiologists) are now able to utilize that and shift some focus on looking at what caused it,” said Lee.

He said epidemiologists are looking at population trends and COVID-19’s infection rate to develop an aggressive approach toward containing it. Lee explains one of the findings experts arrived at regarding testing.

“It’s going to be important as the virus spreads, and it’s going to spread to rural communities as well, how well we can screen all of our citizens. Not just the ones living in the current hotspots,” Lee said.

Like thousands of UH faculty, Lee is transitioning all of his courses online for the remainder of the semester. He plans to focus epidemiology lectures on COVID-19 studies that continue to surface as the outbreak grips the globe.