Background Information

How it began

As the novel coronavirus began to take root in communities across the world, our team focused on the question: how do we help individuals in our community stay safe at home? We launched a symptom support program primarily targeting people in our local region, but quickly had people join from across the country. We began working on making sure the program could be replicated anywhere in the U.S. and brought to scale in cities and towns across the country.

This was done to address the overall lack of coordinated monitoring of symptoms of the novel coronavirus in communities and the lack of personalized guidance around escalating the need for medical care when warranted.

The PRN was launched with a pilot program called Community Health Watch. The project, which launched in April 2020, is both a symptom monitoring program and a research study.

Duke team

The team at Duke that helped launch PRN represents the following entities across the campus:

  • Duke Infectious Diseases & Hospital Epidemiology
  • Duke Heart
  • Duke Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine
  • Duke Primary Care
  • Duke Office of Clinical Research
  • Duke Clinical & Translational Science Institute
  • Duke Department of Population Health Sciences
  • Duke Health Technology Services
  • Duke Private Diagnostic Clinic
  • Duke Social Sciences Research Institute
  • Duke Clinical Research Institute
  • Duke Population Health Management Office
  • Duke Department of Family Medicine and Community Health
  • Duke Institute for Health Innovation

Building a network

The Community Health Watch was designed to support people trying to manage symptoms at home with daily texts and emails and providing telephone follow up to people with severe symptoms. But the study team quickly discovered people were facing additional challenges, such as lack of access to primary care, food insecurity, and even difficulty identifying reliable information about the pandemic. The Duke team began meeting with other organizations trying to help people stay safe and connected – and the Pandemic Response Network (PRN) was born.


Empower individual and communities across the United States to monitor medical and social needs and support rapid escalation of care and triage services throughout the pandemic. We do this through:

  • Longitudinal support with symptoms and social needs to escalate care and connect to relevant services
  • Provide up-to-date materials to promote safety and connectedness
  • Telephone follow-up by humans to participants who need help with medical and social services
  • Share data with the public and with partners to support policy decisions for pandemic resource management

PRN is committed to reaching high-risk groups, including:

  • Older adults and the people who serve them
  • Essential service workers, including long term care workers and agriculture workers
  • Individuals unable to work at home and unable to social distance
  • Communities of color, including non-English speaking communities