WOEMA Position Paper on Public Health Preparedness for COVID-19

Anticipating the COVID-19 Epidemic in the United States – An Exploration of Public Health Impacts and Critical Planning Issues

March 12, 2020

“Speed is everything.”
– World Health Organization (WHO), on the impending COVID-19 epidemic


The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) and the Western Occupational and Environmental Medical Association) WOEMA are professional associations of preventive medicine providers and other health care specialists with expertise in workplace safety and employee health, who champion safe workplaces, healthy workplaces, and healthy and sustainable environments. Our members routinely advise public and private sector organizations concerning population health management and emergency preparedness. Accordingly, the evolving COVID-19 worldwide epidemic is of great interest to our organizations.

We believe that there is an urgent need to mobilize public health resources to contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, prepare health care facilities to handle patients, coordinate personnel, and make medical equipment available to care for the millions of Americans likely to be affected.

This paper will:

  • Outline key information about the COVID-19 epidemic
  • Predict community impacts foreseeable in the next few months
  • Pose key public health challenges and questions for national and local government and business leaders to answer urgently