Two Georgetown centers find synergy in exploring COVID-19’s impact in Latin America

Title:Supermapping the pandemic

Two Georgetown centers find synergy in exploring COVID-19’s impact in Latin America

A cross-campus collaboration between Georgetown University Medical Center and the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service is applying a holistic new lens to COVID-19 in Latin America.

Drawing on each center’s unique expertise, students from the Center for Global Health Science and Security (GHSS) and the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) teamed up to jointly author a series of country-oriented research briefs, offering policymakers in Latin America informative new facets of the pandemic.

The idea originated in 2020 with Alexandra Reichert, a research assistant for GHSS, a center led by professor and pandemic response expert Rebecca Katz, PhD, MPH.

Reichert began populating the COVID Analysis and Mapping of Policies (COVID AMP), an online tool that provides user-friendly data to address the pandemic. This resource, which GHSS co-leads along with several institutions, seeks to support decision-makers in assessing how their policies and plans compare to other places, while taking into account their current COVID-19 caseloads.

When Reichert began collecting Latin American data, she stumbled upon the Latin American COVID-19 Map (LACCOM), a CLAS project designed and led by Georgetown students studying international development. Supported by SFS and aligned with the mission of the newly established Georgetown Americas Institute, LACCOM is an interactive map that documents the impact of the pandemic on countries in Latin America and the Caribbean based on three rubrics: governance and the rule of law; growth and innovation; and social and cultural inclusion.

Reichert saw that LACCOM represented a treasure trove of qualitative information and analysis that could complement COVID AMP and add to the global dialogue around the pandemic.

“We were each telling a different side to the same story, so I thought, how can we come together to tell the whole story?”

Katz supported her idea from the start. “In global health security, we are only as successful as our ability to bring in different disciplines and expertise—this is the whole purpose of what we do and why we do it at Georgetown,” Katz said.

The CLAS leaders agree.

“When we looked at the COVID AMP work, we thought, ‘This is a perfect match,’” said Angelo Rivero Santos, PhD, CLAS’s director of academic affairs who oversees the project. “Their map is global, which gives us the opportunity to draw comparisons across regions, but it is also specific enough to allow us to explore and understand various policies in detail.”

CLAS Director Fr. Matthew Carnes, S.J., says the partnership enables LACCOM to build on its mission of asking critical questions about COVID-19’s long-term impact on Latin America, including how the pandemic will shape democratic norms, health equity, and social inclusion for years to come.

View the interactive Latin America COVID-19 map.

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