Pandemic Data for HHS’s Crimson Contagion Exercise

Pandemic Data for HHS’s Crimson Contagion ExerciseThe U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Crimson Contagion Exercise (a pandemic influenza scenario) required synthetic data on pandemic cases for the players to be able to analyze epidemiological and contract tracing efforts.

Recognizing a Need

The most extensive functional exercise ever performed by the HHS, Crimson Contagion, was conducted in 2019, and covered all ten HHS and FEMA regions, 12 states, and all four time zones in the continental United States. The exercise was meant to focus on: the whole community response and policy issues of workforce viability; critical infrastructure protection; economic impact; non-pharmaceutical interventions; scarce resource allocation; prioritization of vaccines and other countermeasures; and medical surge operations. HHS required synthetic data on pandemic cases to be developed for the exercise and to be provided to the states participating in the exercise.

The IEM Approach

IEM worked with the State of Illinois and IDPH to develop synthetic data on pandemic influenza cases so that their epidemiology team and their contact tracing teams could play during the exercise. This consisted of IEM creating 1,400 cases occurring in Chicago and an additional 2,000 cases in the rest of the state.

Innovating for Resilience

IEM generated case reports containing name, age, sex, address, contact information, household contacts, underlying health conditions, vaccination history, hospitalization status, medication, and influenza tests.  The 3,400 cases were mapped out across the state and synchronized with the pandemic timeline to show when cases appeared within the state. This data engaged Illinois public health, epidemiologist, and contact tracing experts to better enhance their preparedness for future outbreaks.

Achieving Results

The exercise proved to be helpful in simulating a pandemic or disease outbreak and led to the development of the Crimson Contagion Exercise Series that included two tabletop exercises, a seminar, and a functional exercise. As a subcontractor to CNA, IEM provided two planners who worked with the states leading up to the functionable exercise. IEM also supported the exercise by providing two controllers and evaluators and five people in the SimCell, including the SimCell manager.

Expert IEMers

Dr. Sid Baccam, Manager of Emerging Technologies