May 2020 JEH: Guest Editorial
Guest Editorial: An All-Hazards Approach to Pandemic COVID-19: Clarifying Transmission Pathways Toward the Public Health Response
May 2020 Journal of Environmental Health (Volume 82, Number 9)
Editor's Note: The vision for this guest editorial came about in late February 2020 before the World Health Organization declared coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) a pandemic. While the Journal strives to provide its readership with relevant and up-to-date information, the timeliness of the information printed can be hindered by review and production timelines. As such, the Journal felt it was vital to provide information about COVID-19 in the May issue by publishing the following article as a guest editorial. It is important to note that as an editorial, this article was not peer reviewed. Furthermore, the information and conclusions presented are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views or official position of the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) or of the authors’ affiliations. NEHA and the Journal are not liable or responsible for the accuracy of or actions taken on the basis of any information stated herein. The information presented in the article was current as of March 18, 2020. Information regarding COVID-19 case numbers and actions taken by governments will undoubtedly be outdated at the time of publication; however, that does not lessen the value of the information and conclusions provided in this guest editorial.
An All-Hazards Approach to Pandemic COVID-19: Clarifying Pathogen Transmission Pathways Toward the Public Health Response
Christopher Eddy, MPH, REHS, CP-FS, College of Science, Engineering, and Technology, Grand Canyon University
Richard Schuster, MMM, MD, FACP, FRCP (Edin), International Master’s in Public Health Specialized in Health Systems Administration and Global Health Leadership Program, University of Haifa
Eriko Sase, PhD, Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University; Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo; Saitama Prefectural University
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by SARS-CoV-2. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 11, 2020, the first caused by a coronavirus. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003–2004 was the last unproclaimed pandemic with such terrifying potential. It was a harbinger of forthcoming emerging and reemerging infectious disease, severe enough to initiate the revision of the International Health Regulations, including the powerful Public Health Emergency of International Concern that was been declared for COVID-19. This virtually unknown pathogen has no associated vaccine and people have no immunity to it.
In this guest editorial, we clarified known transmission pathways of SARS-CoV-2 and epidemiological commonality from a literature review and organized descriptors into three categories (zoonotic, person-to-person, and environmental) with discussion of infection dynamics. Our nomenclature system unifies veterinary, environmental public health, and medical terminology by following a One Health concept with a simplified categorization of transmission pathways to enable effective prevention strategies in a straightforward public health message based upon an all-hazards theory that focuses on risk and severity. We analyzed prevention, facilitate behavior modification, and shorten incident mitigation in the absence of full human, animal, and environmental transmission dynamics of COVID-19.