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Profiles of the Pandemic: Forecasting the Future

Graphic courtesy of Mary Guevara

When COVID-19 swept across the world, many people went to work tackling the viral behemoth. Dr. Peter Graven, who has a doctorate in health policy and management and is the director of the Office of Advanced Analytics at OHSU, is one of those people.

Graven works to produce and adjust COVID-19 forecasting models to help Oregon officials make meaningful policy decisions for the health of the region.

For the past 20 years, Graven has been working with data analysis. Having this background has given him the tools to understand what the “best guess” for a situation is. 

According to Gravin, Washington’s COVID-19 performance has been pretty similar to Oregon’s, so its influence doesn’t change the models terribly much. California was in a similar situation before its most recent surge of cases and Idaho truly has affected the models because of different policies that the state has taken.

Graven said that the worst part of his work is how distressing the data is. 

 “Sometimes I really want to make the data do something else,” Graven said. “You want this virus to go away like anyone else.” 

 Graven added that the stress and worry of his job have lost him some sleep. However, he’s gotten more comfortable with it as time has gone on and he gets excited to learn all the problems and the variants.  

[The best part is] feeling like this is a job I’ve been training for,” Graven said. “I like to see our institutions do well and provide data to help people; we don’t just collect it for the fun of it.” 


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