COVID-19: Simple Answers to Top Questions Risk Communication Field Guide Questions and Key Messages

This document, intended for SBC practitioners, is the fifth edition of COVID-19: Simple Answers to Top Questions. It is an updated version of the original document published on March 10, 2020. With the rapid evolution of knowledge and policy regarding COVID-19, future revisions will be produced on an ongoing basis.

The document is based on message maps and follows the belief that state health officials need both short and long answers. Messages are presented initially in no more than 3-5 short sentences and convey 3-5 key messages, ideally in the least number of words possible.

The approach is based on surveys showing that lead or front-page media and broadcast stories usually convey only the soundbite: 3-5 messages usually in less than 9 seconds for broadcast media or 27 words for print. Each primary message normally has 3 to 5 supporting messages that can be used when and where appropriate to provide context for the issue being mapped. A brief description of the message mapping strategy is in the Appendices. In the following pages, you will find 60+ top questions about COVID-19 answered with detailed message maps.

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