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Gerstein Science Information Centre

COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus) Information Guide

This guide is a living document. More content will be added as new information and resources become available and as the COVID-19 situation develops. Last updated: June 9, 2021

Communicate Effectively About COVID-19

This section has resources that will support public health messaging and science communicators in general about COVID-19:


Guidance for COVID-19 Communication

Communicating about COVID-19

Associated Press Coronavirus Topical Guide

To help with coverage of the new coronavirus disease, called COVID-19, The Associated Press has prepared a guide based on the AP Stylebook and common usage in AP stories.
Includes definitions of key terms and guidance on proper usage.



Coronavirus Crisis Comms Triage Kit

Resource from The Communications Network. Suitable for non-profits and It includes crowdsourced best practices, resources, and examples of effective crisis communications with an open source Google doc.



5 Lessons for Communicating About Coronavirus

Executive Director of John Hopkins CCP gives 5 lessons on communicating about coronavirus.


The National Association of Science Writers (NASW) has created this regularly-updated list of resources covering the COVID-19 pandemic. All resources were publicly accessible at the time of listing.


Additional resources:

COVID-19 Health Literacy Project    

Effective fact-sheets in over 37 different languages available.


Tipsheet: Covering the Coronavirus Epidemic Effectively without Spreading Misinformation

Tips on discussing COVID-19 by the Open Notebook, a non-profit organization that provides tools and resources to help science, environmental, and health journalists sharpen their skills.


Science Communication Journal Club Podcast Series

The Science Communication Journal Club aims to help scientists with their outreach efforts. Episode 16 of their podcast series covers crafting effective messages during a pandemic.  


Social Stigma Associated with COVID-19

Tips by the WHO on how to talk about COVID-19 without stoking panic or stigmatizing parts of society. Key takeaways include avoiding referring to those with COVID-19 as "victims" or "cases" and avoiding criminalizing or dehumanizing language when discussing acquisition of COVID-19.

General Crisis/Pandemic Communications Resources


CDC’s Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) manual

Based on psychological and communication sciences, studies in issues management, and practical lessons learned from emergency responses.

For public health response officials and communicators who have a basic knowledge of public health communication, working with the media and social media, and local and national response structures.

COMMUNICATION 101: As a UX Researcher, I study how people understand technology, content, and messaging for a living. During this crisis, vague messages like "Practice social distancing" will have far less impact than concrete, specific messages like "Stay at home. Get groceries once per week." from r/coolguides


Creating COVID-19 Data Visualizations

The Map and Data Library at UofT has created a guide of COVID-19 data resources. This guide contains tips on visualizing and mapping data responsibly, sources of COVID-19 data, and tutorials for creating data visualizations.

In addition to the above data resources guide, check out some of the resources below:


For general advice and tips:


10 considerations before you create another chart about COVID-19

Opinion piece by Amanda Makulec, an advisor to the Coronavirus Data Resource Hub and Operations Director for the Data Visualization Society. Includes details on where to find COVID-19 data to create visualizations, and how to use this data responsibly.


Data Visualization Advice for Scientists​

General data visualization advice and best-practice graphic design principles by Dataviz engineer Robert Simmon.



The public do not understand logarithmic graphs used to portray COVID-19

COVID-19 data is routinely represented by logarithmic graphs but evidence shows that the people misunderstand these visualizations. When creating graphs, it is argued to to use the linear scale whenever possible. 


For visualization inspiration:


COVID-19 Visual Media Resource

Compilation of visual resources by UofT's Biomedical Communications faculty, students, and alumni for science and health communication around COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2. 


For image resources:

Open Peeps

Open Peeps is a hand-drawn illustration library to create scenes of people. Recently updated to include nurses, doctors, and face masks. The library is under license CC0 (free to use). 


Impact of COVID-19 on Science Communication