COVID-19 Response

About the COVID-19 R2I2

Over the spring of 2020, Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics led a rapid response impact initiative (R2I2) to address issues of pandemic response. The Center’s rapid response led to twenty-three white papers, three policy roadmaps, new data structures and packages, and multiple op-eds and briefings for decision-makers over a four month period. The work had a direct and early impact on COVID response policy—receiving an endorsement from the U.S. Conference of Mayors and dissemination via the National Governors’ Association, and contributing to the development of legislation passed in the House and currently under consideration in the Senate. Especially impactful was our risk incidence level map released on July 1, 2020 in collaboration with the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI). Throughout, the success of the work has depended on partnership with entities at Harvard like HGHI, Partners In Health, the Petrie-Flom Center for Law and Bioethics, and the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. The work has also been dramatically catalyzed by external partners like the U.S. Conference of Mayors and New America.

Pandemic Resilience Roadmap

April 20, 2020:

Our COVID-19 Response Initiative, a bipartisan group of experts in economics, public health, technology and ethics from across the country, has released the nation’s first comprehensive operational roadmap for mobilizing and reopening the U.S. economy in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

You can find the full report, Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience, here.

Associated op-ed: Danielle Allen, "The Three Key Ideas at Stake for a Post-coronavirus Future," Washington Post (April 20, 2020).

May 12, 2020:

Our COVID-19 Response Initiative has released Pandemic Resilience: Getting It Done, a supplement to the Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience.

July 1, 2020: 

We have issued an update to the Technical Handbook, TTSI Technical Advice Handbook for States and Municipalities, 2.0.

Click here to find The Path to Zero: Key Metrics for COVID Suppression, a full toolkit designed for policy makers and the public.

White Papers

The full series of peer-reviewed white papers of the COVID-19 R2I2 are below. 

White Papers Op-eds                    
Securing Justice, Health, and Democracy against the COVID-19 Threat, March 20, 2020.            Danielle Allen, "America Needs To Be on a War Footing," Washington Post (March 20, 2020).                  
When Can We Go Out?: Evaluating Policy Paradigms for Responding to the COVID-19 Threat, March 25, 2020. Danielle Allen, "A Better Way to Defeat the Virus and
Restore the Economy
," Washington Post (March 26, 2020).   
Mobilizing the Political Economy for COVID-19, March 26, 2020.                   Danielle Allen, E. Glen Weyl, Rajiv Sethi, and Santa Fe Institute,
"A 'Mobilize and Transition' Strategy Could Reduce COVID-19 Mortality while Cushioning the Economic Decline," SFI Transmission: Complexity Science for COVID-19, No. 007.1 (April 6, 2020).
Building Solidarity: Challenges, Options, and Implications for COVID-19 Responses, April 1, 2020. Danielle Allen, "Here's How We Might Save Both Lives and
the Economy
," TED Connects: Community and Hope (April 6, 2020). 
Outpacing the Virus: Digital Response to Containing the Spread of COVID-19 while Mitigating Privacy Risks, April 3, 2020.  Danielle Allen, "We Need Tech and Government to Help with Contact Tracing. That Doesn't Need to Mean Big Brother," Washington Post (April 3, 2020). 

Why We Must Test Millions a Day, April 8, 2020.

Testing Millions - Appendix

Testing Millions - Code (Code is adapted from

Danielle Allen, "The Best Way out of This Pandemic Is to Massively Scale up Testing. Here’s How to Do It," Washington Post (April 10, 2020).
Policing in a Time of Pandemic: Recommendations for Law Enforcement, April 10, 2020. Rosa Brooks, "In this pandemic, standard police practices risk spreading infection," Washington Post (April 24, 2020). 
Federalism Is an Asset, April 28, 2020.  
The Mechanics of the COVID-19 Testing Supply Chain: Version 2.0, April 22, 2020.   
Responding to COVID-19: Think through the Analogy of War, April 21, 2020.  
Toward Global Pandemic Resilience, April 23, 2020.  
Immunity Certificates: If We Must Have Them, We Must Do It Right, April 20, 2020.  
Interstate Compacts: A Primer, April 30, 2020.  
Desiging an Interstate Compact for a Pandemic Testing Board, May 4, 2020.   
Preparedness and Unpreparedness: The Military vs. Medicine, May 7, 2020.  
Mitigate/Suppress/Maintain: Local Targets for Victory Over COVID, May 14, 2020. Alex Tabarrok and Puja Ahluwalia Ohlhaver, "We Could Stop the Pandemic by July 4 if the Government Took These Steps," Washington Post (May 15, 2020). 
Educational Ethics During a Pandemic, May 16, 2020. Educating Ethically, Usable Knowledge (May 21, 2020). 
Ethical Implementation of Wearables in Pandemic Response: A Call for a Paradigm Shift, May 18, 2020.   
Who Is Dying, and Why?, May 29, 2020.  
Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Sites and Sources of Community Resilience, June 11, 2020.   
Pandemic Resilience on Campus, June 22, 2020.  

Digital Tools for COVID-19 Contact Tracing: Identifying and Mitigating the Equity, Privacy, and Civil Liberties Concerns, July 2, 2020.

Policy Lessons from the History of Pandemic Preparedness, September 3, 2020.  

We share these materials broadly and publicly in the hopes of encouraging wide engagement in supporting our elected decision-makers in this urgent and difficult period of collective planning.The initiative will bring scholarship to bear on the crisis by providing an avenue for swift dissemination of white papers focused on issues of ethics and governance (including of the economy), emerging from the effort to respond to the pandemic. This cross-disciplinary, rapid peer-review process aims to undo the disconnect among lawmakers, technical experts, bureaucracy, and the general public. White papers will engage topics of societal goals, education, the economy, the health system, the temporality of planning, triage in the justice system, volunteerism, and social solidarity. 

COVID-19 resources from our friends and colleagues: 

Danielle Allen, "The White House Strategy for Reopening Is Coming Together," Washington Post (May 4, 2020). 

-----. "We've Wasted Enough Time. We Must Figure Out How To Reopen Schools This Summer," Washington Post (May 14, 2020). 

Danielle Allen, Robert C. Lieberman, and Yascha Mounk, "Protecting both Public Health and Civil Liberties," SNF Agora Conversations: The Politics and Policy of COVID-19, Johns Hopkins University, May 4, 2020. 

Sue Ambrose, Miles Moffeit, and Allie Morris, "Texas: Plan de Greg Abbott es escaso en metas y en medidas cuantificables, [Texas: Greg Abbott's Plan Is Scarce in Goals and Measurable Measures,Al Dia Dallas (April 30, 2020. 

Mark Arsenault, "Six Weeks after Social Distancing Began, Mass. Coronavirus Hospitalizations and Cases Remain High. Why so Little Improvement?," Boston Globe (April 30, 2020). 

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, COVID-19 Public Sector Resources.

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, "Baldwin Joins Senate Democrats in Calling on VA to Develop COVID-19 Testing Strategy at Facilities Nationwide," Urban Milwaukee (May 7, 2020). 

Martha Bebinger, "Thinking Through The Unthinkable: How Mass. Hospitals May Decide Who Gets A Ventilator In The COVID-19 Surge," CommonHealth, (April 7, 2020).

Sara Berg, More Testing Is Needed to Rebuild Rrust and Remobilize the Country," American Medical Association (May 12, 2020). 

Alex Cahana, "We Were Already Unhappy: COVID-19 Just Made It Clearer," Medium (May 12, 2020). 

The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, "Ethics of Surveillance Technology During a Pandemic," April 6, 2020.

-----, "Examining the Coronavirus from the Lens of Human Rights," March 26, 2020. 

Jonathan Chernoguz, "Protecting Rights in a Global Crisis," Harvard Law Today (March 25, 2020). [A Q+A with the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics.]

"Click Here: Inoculation, Time, and Rent Strikes," Stanford Social Innovation Review (May 6, 2020).

I. Glenn Cohen, Andrew M. Crespo, and Douglas B. White, "Potential Legal Liability for Withdrawing or Withholding Ventilators During COVID-19," JAMA (April 1, 2020).   

Vernal Coleman, "City Plans Pop-up Clinics for Treatment of Homless amid Coronavirus Outbreak," Boston Globe (March 17, 2020). 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Crisis Standards of Care: Planning Guidance for the COVID-19 Pandemic, April 7, 2020.

Coronavirus ResponseCSPAN (May 13, 2020). 

COVID-19: A Frontline Guide for Local Decision-Makers.

COVID-19 Health Justice Advisory Committee Statement, Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, "Mobilize and Transition: A Policy to Defeat COVID-19 and Restore America, with Dr. Danielle Allen," Hold These Truths with Dan Crenshaw (podcast), April 6, 2020.

----, "Rep. Dan Crenshaw: Coronavirus -- We Can Only Fight this Enemy Together. That's Why Duty is Crucial," Fox News (April 4, 2020).

Shikha Dalmia, "'Lockdown' and 'Liberation' Aren't America's Only Choices," Reason (May 1, 2020). 

Ezkekiel Emanuel, "Fourteen Days. That's the Most Time We Have to Defeat Coronavirus," The New York Times (March 23, 2020). 

-----, "We Can Safely Restart the Economy in June. Here's How," New York Times (March 28, 2020). 

Ezekiel Emanuel and Paul M. Romer, "Without More Tests, America Can’t Reopen. And To Make Matters Worse, We’re Testing the Wrong People," The Atlantic (April 18, 2020). 

James Fallows, "Our Towns: A New Way for Californians to Serve," The Atlantic (April 7, 2020).

Harvey V. Fineberg, "Ten Weeks to Crush the Curve,The New England Journal of Medicine (April 23, 2020). 

Hayley Fowler, "Carolinas in ‘Yellow Zone’ for COVID-19, Report Says. What’s that Mean for Reopening?," Charlotte Observer (May 12, 2020). 

Lauren Frias, "The US Is Being Presented with 2 Choices: The Economy or Public Health. Experts Say It's a False Dichotomy and There's a 3rd Option,"Business Insider (May 6, 2020). 

Dan Froomkin, "Trump Wants to Reopen Schools before Summer: A Worse Idea than Bleach?," Salon (April 29, 2020).

Chris Fussell, "We Need to Link Local Leaders Directly to One Another," The Atlantic (April 3, 2020). 

Lyn Gilbert, Yun-Hee Jeon, Marc Stears, Glenda Wardle, and Anthony Costello, Moving Beyond Lockdown: How Might Citizen Action Help Tackle the Public Health Crisis?, Sydney Policy Lab, April 3, 2020. 

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, "Former FDA Commissioner: Here’s the Testing Strategy We Need to Safely Reopen America," Time (May 13, 2020). 

Scott Gottlieb, M.D., et al., National Coronavirus Response: A Roadmap to Reopening, American Enterprise Institute (March 28, 2020). 

Group of Eight Australia, COVID-19 Roadmap to Recovery: A Report for the Nation (April 27, 2020).

Chloe Hadavas, "Trump Ends Federal Social Distancing Campaign Amid Rising Coronavirus Deaths," Slate (April 30, 2020). 

The Hastings Center, Ethics Resources on the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Elizabeth Hayes, "Harvard University Analyses Find Oregon Is on Track with Testing, Tracing, Reopening," Portland Business Journal (May 13, 2020). 

Jack Healey, Manny Fernandez, and Peter Baker, "Reopening Plans Across U.S. Are Creating Confusing Patchwork," The New York Times (April 27, 2020). 

"How to Safely Reopen the Economy," ABC News (May 12, 2020). 

Glenn Hubbard and Rajiv Sethi, "'Lives or Livelihoods' Misses the Point of Pandemic Recovery," The Hill (May 13, 2020). 

Sally Jenkins, "Some may have to die to save the economy? How about offering testing and basic protections?," Washington Post (April 18, 2020).

David S. Jones, M.D., Ph.D., "History in a Crisis--Lessons for COVID-19," The New England Journal of Medicine (March 12, 2020).

Frances Kamm, "Moral Reasoning in a Pandemic: Three things we need to get right," Boston Review (July 6, 2020). 

Ezra Klein, "We Don’t Have a President, or a Plan," VOX (May 13, 2020). 

Natalia Linos, "Coronavirus (COVID-19): Press Conference with Natalia Linos," Harvard Chan: This Week in Health, Episode 68 (June 2, 2020). 

German Lopez, "The 4 Plans to End Social Distancing, Explained," Vox (April 14, 2020).

Los Alamos National Laboratory, COVID-19 Confirmed and Forecasted Case Data, (forecasts based on data as of April 4, 2020)

Glenn Loury, "A Better Way: Glenn Loury and Danielle Allen," The Glenn Show, April 6, 2020.

Mahindra Humanities Center, Response to COVID-19.

Naomi Martin and Hiawatha Bray, As People Clamor for Coronavirus Antibody Tests, Could ‘Immunity Passes’ Be Next?," The Boston Globe (May 11, 2020). 

MASS Design Group, Designing Spaces for Infection Control (March 27, 2020).

-----, Guidelines for Limiting Contagion in COVID-19 Tent Clinics (April 1, 2020).

-----, "Role of Architecture in Fighting COVID-19."

Victoria McGrane, "Ayanna Pressley Warns Mass. Is Reopening Too Quickly, Asks Baker To ‘Re-evaluate His Timeline’Boston Globe (May 19, 2020). 

Kristine Moore, Marc Lipsitch, John M. Barry, and Michael T. Osterholm, "Part 1: The Future of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned from Pandemic Influenza," COVID-19: The CIDRAP Viewpoint (April 30, 2020). 

Attila Mraz, "Rights in a Pandemic," Boston Review (June 3, 2020). 

Michael Murphy, "The Role of Architecture in Fighting a Pandemic," Boston Globe (April 6, 2020). 

National COVID-19 Testing Action Plan, The Rockefeller Foundation (April 21, 2020).

Katie Pearce, "Saving Lives while Protecting Freedoms in the Age of COVID-19," HUB John’s Hopkins University (May 4, 2020). 

Dan Porterfield, "Sightlines We Can Trust in a Time of Crisis," Forbes (April 27, 2020). 

Michael Sandel, "Pandemic Ethics," The Global Philosopher (podcast), April 1, 2020.

Patricia Vélez Santiago, "La vida post covid-19: ¿nuestra nueva realidad serán años de distanciamiento social de forma intermitente? [Post Covid-19 Life: Will Our New Reality Be Years of Intermittent Social Distancing?]," Univision (May 2, 2020). 

Lauren Sarkesian, "As the U.S. Risks Reopening for Business, Technology Alone Won’t Stop the Coronavirus," Just Security (April 29, 2020). 

Ayelet Shachar, "Borders in the Time of COVID-19," Ethics & International Affairs (March 2020). 

Lauren Spohn, "A Harvard Senior's Call to the Home Front," Harvard Magazine (April 3, 2020).

Rob Stein, Carmel Wroth, and Alyson Hurt, "U.S. Coronavirus Testing Still Falls Short. How's Your State Doing," NPR (May 7, 2020).

Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "Trump Vows More Coronavirus Testing, but Less Than What May Be Needed," The New York Times, (April 27, 2020). 

Sydney Policy Lab, Principles for a Policy Response to COVID-19, March 2020.

Grace Tatter and Meghna Chakrabarti, "How We'll Know When It's Safe To Reopen The U.S. Economy," On Point, (May 4, 2020). 

Brittany Trang, Next Day. Same Time. Same Place: How Waiting Out the Pandemic Is Like Waiting for GodotPop Matters (May 12, 2020). 

Robert D. Truog, M.D., Christine Mitchell, R.N., and George Q. Daley, M.D., Ph.D. "The Toughest Triage — Allocating Ventilators in a Pandemic," The New England Journal of Medicine (March 23, 2020). 

Arthur Villasanta, Coronavirus Update: GOP Senators Disagree With Trump On COVID-19 Testing, 'There Are Still Shortfalls'," International Business Times (May 7, 2020).

Gregory J. Wallance, "Missing from America's Fight against COVID-19: Vision and Boldness,"The Hill (April 29, 2020.

"Glen Weyl on Fighting COVID-19 and the Role of the Academic Expert," Conversations with Tyler Podcast (April 29, 2020).

Teri Whitcraft, "How To Teopen the Economy Safely: New Report Shows States and Cities How To Get It Done," ABC News (May 12, 2020).