New, more local data from the CDC

The CDC made two major updates to its COVID-19 data this week.

First: On Tuesday, the agency published a new dataset with more granular information on COVID-19 cases. Like previous case surveillance datasets, this new source compiles cases shared with the CDC, along with anonymized information on their symptoms, underlying medical conditions, race/ethnicity, and other variables. The new dataset is notable because it includes detailed geographic data, going down to the county level.

After months of no state-by-state demographic data from the federal government, we now have county-by-county demographic data. This is a pretty big deal! It’s also a pretty big dataset; it includes about 22 million cases (out of a total 30 million U.S. cases to date).

Of those 22 million cases, race is available for about 13 million cases (58%) and ethnicity is available for about 10 million cases (47%). The dataset will be updated monthly, so we may see better completion with further updates. I haven’t had time to do much detailed analysis of the new dataset yet (hell, I haven’t even managed to get it to load on my computer), but I’m excited to dive into it for future issues.

Second: Vaccination data at the county level are now available on the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker, as of Friday. No, not in the vaccinations section—you need to go to the County View section, then select “Vaccinations” in the dropdown menu. Click on a specific county (or select it using dropdown menus), and you’ll be able to see data for that county.

County-level vaccination data from the CDC. Screenshot taken on March 27.

At the moment, only three data points are available: total fully vaccinated population, fully vaccinated population over age 18, and fully vaccinated population over age 65. Also, data are missing for Texas, New Mexico, and select other counties. Still, this a great start for more standardized vaccination data at the national level. (Can we get more demographic data next?)

These county-level vaccination data aren’t downloadable directly from the CDC’s tracker, but the COVID Tracking Project is archiving the data at the Project’s public GitHub. The New York TImes has also built an interactive map with the data, which you can find on their vaccine tracker.

It’s worth noting that I found out about both of these updates via tweets from the White House COVID-19 Data Director, Cyrus Shahpar. I’m on both the CDC’s press list and the White House press list, and I watch nearly every White House COVID-19 press briefing, so it seems a little odd that I’m getting the news from Twitter.

(Not that I don’t love Cyrus’ daily tweets! I just wonder about the PR strategy here. Also, Cyrus, if you’re reading this, that interview request I sent back in January still stands.)

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