Real-Time CDC Consultation during the COVID-19 Pandemic-United States, March-July, 2020

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jul 6;18(14):7251. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18147251.


Context: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) clinicians provided real-time telephone consultation to healthcare providers, public health practitioners, and health department personnel.

Objective: To describe the demographic and public health characteristics of inquiries, trends, and correlation of inquiries with national COVID-19 case reports. We summarize the results of real-time CDC clinician consultation service provided during 11 March to 31 July 2020 to understand the impact and utility of this service by CDC for the COVID-19 pandemic emergency response and for future outbreak responses.

Design: Clinicians documented inquiries received including information about the call source, population for which guidance was sought, and a detailed description of the inquiry and resolution. Descriptive analyses were conducted, with a focus on characteristics of callers as well as public health and clinical content of inquiries.

Setting: Real-time telephone consultations with CDC Clinicians in Atlanta, GA.

Participants: Health care providers and public health professionals who called CDC with COVID-19 related inquiries from throughout the United States.

Main outcome measures: Characteristics of inquiries including topic of inquiry, inquiry population, resolution, and demographic information.

Results: A total of 3154 COVID-19 related telephone inquiries were answered in real-time. More than half (62.0%) of inquiries came from frontline healthcare providers and clinical sites, followed by 14.1% from state and local health departments. The majority of inquiries focused on issues involving healthcare workers (27.7%) and interpretation or application of CDC's COVID-19 guidance (44%).

Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a substantial number of inquiries to CDC, with the large majority originating from the frontline clinical and public health workforce. Analysis of inquiries suggests that the ongoing focus on refining COVID-19 guidance documents is warranted, which facilitates bidirectional feedback between the public, medical professionals, and public health authorities.

Keywords: CDC; COVID-19; clinician inquiries; health department inquiries; real-time consultation.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S.
  • Humans
  • Pandemics* / prevention & control
  • Referral and Consultation
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Telephone
  • United States