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Jessica Caum is the Program Manager for the Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness Program at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH), where she has worked since 2011. Jessica has led a variety of strategic planning initiatives for PDPH, including the recent Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI) full-scale exercise for the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area (PCW-MSA) that occurred in October 2019.

She has also supported public health planning for two National Special Security Events, including the 2015 World Meeting of Families and Papal Visit and the 2016 Democratic National Convention, as well as a variety of local responses, including the Disaster Assistance Services Center (DASC) for evacuees from Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017, as well as the Hepatitis A outbreak and PES refinery explosion in 2019. Most recently, she has been functioning as the Operations Chief for the Department’s response to COVID-19, which has included overseeing testing sites, managing personal protective equipment (PPE) inventory and allocations, supporting isolation and quarantine planning, and coordinating with partner agencies.

Jessica has an MPH from Drexel University School of Public Health, where she also teaches the Public Health and Disaster Preparedness course in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health.

Presentation: 1:00:21


This session will offer a local perspective on the public health response to COVID-19. Specifically, the session will provide an update on the local Philadelphia response and address key issues, such as response organization, coordination with partner agencies, critical public health response strategies, and areas for future planning and expansion as the response continues to evolve. A particular area of emphasis will be on the role of non-pharmaceutical interventions in the absence of effective medical countermeasures.

Learning Objectives

  1. To describe the role of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health in leading the local response to COVID-19
  2. To identify core components of the local response to COVID-19, including testing, isolation and quarantine, social distancing measures, communications with both the public and the healthcare community, and coordination with partner agencies
  3. To discuss best practices, challenges, and areas for expansion and improvement as the response progresses


  • Situation update
  • Response organization
  • Testing and case identification
  • Non-pharmaceutical interventions
  • Medical surge
  • Communications and outreach
  • Challenges and next steps