Virtual Breakfast Series: Return to work: Challenges, solutions & perspectives from an epidemiologist


COVID-19 has upended both, personal and professional productivity. From a business perspective, one of the largest challenges has been deciding how to approach safe, on-site operations. While many employers have been able to transition to work-from-home or employ a hybrid structure, this is not always a sustainable (or desired) long-term approach.

Complicated scientific technologies, evolving public health recommendations, variations in outbreak severity between communities, and sometimes disjointed recommendations across jurisdictions only serve to exacerbate existing challenges. Fortunately, we have many tools at our disposal to help employers navigate through the decisions of returning to work. One such tool, big data populated in near real time, has enabled epidemiologists to track the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic in a detail that was previously not possible.

Within the context of return-to-work strategies, harnessing these geographically-specific data has allowed us to construct recommendations for employers to help minimize the risk of on-site infectious disease outbreaks. Importantly, in addition to epidemiologic data, every business is unique; industry, size, location, employee characteristics, facility type. These factors influence which preventive measures are best suited to minimize exposure risk, which interventions are resource-sensitive, and crucially, which strategies are sustainable.

Breakfast Speaker: Kyle Freese, PhD, MPH

Dr. Kyle Freese is the chief epidemiologist for STChealth, a leading information exchange and health Intelligence company located in downtown Phoenix, Ariz. Born and raised in Phoenix, Freese received his B.S. in Physiology from the University of Arizona. He completed his master’s degree in public health with a focus in behavioral and community health sciences and his PhD in epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh. He is a member of the American College of Epidemiology, the Society for Epidemiologic Research and the American Public Health Association. He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles in different topic areas, featured in academic journals such as Cancer Research, the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Surgery for Obesity and Related Disorders, the Journal of Healthcare for the Poor and Underserved, and Public Health Reports.


Key Take-Aways:
1. One size does not fit all. Return to work strategies vary by industry, company size, physical space, resource availability, location, even workforce demographics.
2. Trusted sources of information make all the difference. Combating misleading information is part of the public health response.
3. Epidemics are dynamic. Public health responses evolve with new data and scientific knowledge.

Who Should Attend:
Any executive, HR representative, or employee who makes decisions about return to work protocols.



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Virtual Event


May 18, 2021


9:00am - 10:00am


Free for Council members; $20 for non-members