December 27, 2020.Reading time less than 1 minute.
This newsletter observes Dr. Anthony S. Fauci Day, a new holiday declared in Washington, D.C. on December 24 in honor of Dr. Fauci’s 80th birthday. Thank you, Dr. Fauci, for your tireless years of service.
Despite the holiday, many jurisdictions have begun reporting COVID-19 vaccination data since my last issue. Major updates include: the CDC added vaccinations to its dashboard, 27 states are now reporting COVID-19 vaccination data, and Our World in Data is tracking COVID-19 vaccinations worldwide.
I selected 20 stories that have uncovered significant patterns of the pandemic, demonstrated a mastery of craft, and inspired me to be a better data journalist. I included a variety of outlets and topics, featuring data viz-heavy stories as well as more traditional articles which explain COVID-19 numbers.
The COVID Tracking Project noted that 20 states did not report COVID-19 data on December 25. The true impact of over a million people traveling will not be seen in the data for weeks to come. But while public health agencies may take a day off, hospitals never close. This week, more Americans were hospitalized with COVID-19 than ever: the number peaked on December 24, at over 120,000. That’s double the highest national patient number we saw in the spring or summer.
In the interest of giving credit to the HHS where credit is due: the agency updated its new facility-level hospitalization dataset right on schedule this past Monday. Last week, I used this hospitalization dataset—along with the HHS’s state-level hospitalization data—to build several visualizations showing how COVID-19 has hit hospitals at the individual, county, and state levels. I also wrote a brief article on COVID-19 hospitalizations for Stacker, hosting visualizations and highlighting some major insights.
For months, public health advocates have called on the federal government to release in-depth data reports that are compiled internally by the White House Coronavirus Task Force. These reports include detailed information on cases, tests, and deaths at the state, county, and city levels. This past Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began releasing all such national COVID-19 reports and the data behind them.
This past week, the first COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered to frontline healthcare workers across the country. The FDA issued Emergency Use Authorization to a second vaccine. But I haven’t seen a vaccination dashboard from the CDC. This federal agency is lagging behind several states that are making their vaccination counts public, as well as journalists who have already begun to compile the limited information that’s available.
Cases appear to be slowing nationwide, the Project’s weekly update reports—but the trend should be interpreted with caution, as many cases reported last week were delayed by the Thanksgiving holiday. And national counts obscure regional patterns: while the Midwest may have finally passed its peak of new cases, the Northeast, South, and West are all facing still-rising outbreaks. California alone reported 287,000 cases this week, and the state’s hospitals are already full.