Valverde hunts for COVID-19 hotspots

November 16, 2020

Dr. Eduardo Valverde

Dr. Eduardo Valverde

Eduardo Valverde, DrPH, works with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as senior health scientist in the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP). His experience evaluating NCHHSTP programs came in handy when he was deployed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic for six weeks June–July. In the meantime, he has continued to carry out his core duties while filling in for his colleagues as they are deployed for pandemic response.

“My day typically starts at 7 a.m. when I review my calendar of activities,” said Valverde, who earned a Doctor of Public Health degree from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Public Health Leadership Program in 2015. “I normally have five to six hours of calls related to the different projects I’m working on. The rest of the time, I’m developing evaluation protocols, training curriculums, analytic plans, etc., or working on the national screening programs my team is involved in.”

Valverde played an active part in the COVID-19 response when he was deployed to the CDC’s Outbreaks and Hotspots team with the COVID-19 Health Department Task Force Group. With this group, he identified counties with increasing COVID-19 prevalence, known as hotspots. He used this information to better understand transmission dynamics and offered targeted support to health departments in affected communities. He also co-authored two Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, which are the CDC’s primary vehicle to disseminate public health information and recommendations.

One of these reports, “Disparities in Incidence of COVID-19 Among Underrepresented Racial/Ethnic Groups in Counties Identified as Hotspots During June 5–18, 2020 – 22 States, February–June 2020,” emphasized the heightened risk of COVID-19 infection, severe illness and death faced by communities of color. Valverde and the team determined that among 79 counties identified as hotspots that also had sufficient data on race, a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases occurred among underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in almost all areas from February to June 2020. This information can inform future testing and prevention efforts.

NCHHSTP conducts public health surveillance, prevention research, and prevention and control programs; it also promotes school-based health and disease prevention. Valverde provides technical assistance to all five divisions of NCHHSTP, evaluating its initiatives to decrease the incidence of infection, morbidity and mortality, and health disparities.

His other duties include leading evaluations of clinical HIV and Hepatitis B and C screening programs to identify and disseminate best practices for clinical settings across the country. He also works with the associate director of the Program and Performance Improvement Office to develop collaborative relationships with federal, state, and other medical and public health organizations across the United States to further the impact of NCHHSTP programs. As well as being a Gillings alumnus, he is also an adjunct professor at the School.

When asked about his future plans, Valverde shows no signs of slowing down.

“I look forward to my next COVID deployment, hopefully early in 2021,” he said.


Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at sphcomm@unc.edu.

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