Sources and updates, October 2

  • Johns Hopkins dashboard creator wins public service award: Lauren Gardner, an engineering professor at Johns Hopkins University, was recently awarded the 2022 Lasker-Bloomberg Public Service Award (a major prize in biomedical research) in recognition of her work on JHU’s global COVID-19 dashboard. This dashboard was one of the world’s first and most popular sources for tracking how the pandemic spread. Unlike many other projects, it has continued fairly consistently since early 2020, and continues to be a great resource for national and international data. Congratulations to Gardner and the other folks at JHU!
  • CDC releases updated chronic disease and risk factor data: This week, the CDC published a new iteration of its Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a major data source providing information on chronic conditions, health behaviors, access to healthcare, and more. The surveillance system uses surveys of over 400,000 American adults, conducted annually in all 50 states and several territories. While these aren’t COVID-specific data, the datasets can be a really helpful source for examining populations more vulnerable to COVID-19 in different parts of the country.
  • Increased respiratory illnesses in children: Another CDC update: researchers from the agency published a new study in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report reporting increased cases of respiratory illness in kids this past summer. Strains of rhinovirus and enterovirus that haven’t circulated much in the last two years are back in 2022 and could cause problems this fall—especially as schools continue to operate in-person with relatively few public health measures—the CDC report suggests. For more context, see this recent newsletter by Katelyn Jetelina and Caitlin Rivers.
  • Biobot and CDC expand wastewater tracking to monkeypox: Biobot, the leading COVID-19 wastewater surveillance company, is expanding its work with the CDC to include monkeypox surveillance. As part of the CDC’s National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS), Biobot will coordinate data collection and analysis for both COVID-19 and monkeypox through at least January 2023. “We hope this can demonstrate the flexibility and versatility of this technology for governments across the country,” Biobot president and cofounder Newsha Ghaeli said in a press release.
  • Launch of the Data Liberation Project: This is not COVID- or even health-specific, but I wanted to give a quick shout-out to the Data Liberation Project, a new effort by Jeremy Singer-Vine (widely known in data journalism circles as the author of the Data Is Plural newsletter). The new project is “an initiative to identify, obtain, reformat, clean, document, publish, and disseminate government datasets of public interest.” I hope to see some COVID-19 datasets liberated through this project!

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