Jessica Malaty Rivera
Science Communication Lead at The Pandemic Tracking Collective; Former Science Communication Lead at the COVID Tracking Project
Jessica Malaty Rivera is an epidemiologist and science communicator who has worked to help policymakers and the American public understand the COVID-19 pandemic. She is no stranger to emerging diseases like COVID-19 considering she studied them at Georgetown University School of Medicine while receiving her Master of Science in Biohazardous Threat Agents & Emerging Infectious Diseases. Throughout her professional career thereafter, Malaty Rivera developed an expertise in science communication and public relations, advising a broad variety of private companies and advocacy groups on how to communicate with the public.
In April of 2020, as COVID-19 was sweeping across the United States, Malaty Rivera joined the COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer organization that became “one of the most trusted data sources on COVID-19 in the U.S,” according to GQ. From March of 2020 to March of 2021, the project worked to collect, standardize, share, visualize, and explain data on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and infection outcomes in the US. It advanced crucial analyses that state and federal governments were failing to provide.
Malaty Rivera helped to develop strategies and best practices for the COVID Tracking Project that involved transparently and accurately sharing information to guide the nation’s pandemic response. She described how her team built “beautiful call and response relationships” with newsrooms and worked with members of the media to strengthen the project’s visualizations. Her team also aimed to highlight inequities resulting from COVID-19 by creating data trackers that showed the pandemic’s disproportionate impacts on people of color and residents of long-term care facilities.
Malaty Rivera remains proud of her work at the COVID Tracking Project. She stated, “This work at COVID Tracking Project has been the most meaningful work of my entire career. I say that confidently… It was a really, really remarkable grassroots effort to respond in a way that we tried to fill a gap that we felt was very, very obvious in the United States.”
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