Source shout-out: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

CMS now allows users to search directly for COVID-19 data on specific nursing homes. Screenshot taken on August 15.

A recent issue of Al Tompkins’ newsletter led me to check out the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) COVID-19 data page for the first time in a few months. And it has gotten a serious renovation during that time.

Among many other responsibilities, CMS oversees the nation’s nursing homes—providing funding, monitoring quality standards, and more. As a result, CMS has tracked COVID-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes throughout the pandemic, along with tracking how well nursing homes adhere to standards such as PPE use and regular testing.

The agency’s public data COVID-19 in nursing homes used to be displayed as a very basic page with links out to spreadsheet downloads. In fact, back in September 2020, I called out the website for its poor data accessibility, explaining that the site was set up in a manner challenging for screenreaders.

Now, the site includes a customized data explorer, easy-to-read overarching statistics, and an API that developers can use to readily access nursing home data. Perhaps most useful for the average reader (and for local journalists) is a data visualization section. Users can search an interactive map for nursing homes in their area, then view those facilities’ COVID-19 stats. The section also includes maps displaying nursing home COVID-19 cases, deaths, and vaccinations by state.

In short, CMS’s COVID-19 data are now both easier to access (from the journalist’s or researcher’s perspective) and easier to explore right on the agency’s website. Thank you, CMS developers!

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