This past Friday, the CDC’s COVID-19 data team announced that its newsletter, the COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review, will send its final issue on Friday, May 12. That’s the day after the federal public health emergency for COVID-19 ends.
For the last two years, the Weekly Review newsletter has been a great source of accessible updates on the state of COVID-19 in the U.S.; it includes summary statistics on cases, hospitalizations, vaccinations, variants, wastewater surveillance, and deaths. I’ve frequently referenced the newsletter in my own National Numbers updates, and have pointed other journalists to it.
But this newsletter hasn’t been as reliable as one might expect from the CDC. Its writers have frequently taken the week off for federal holidays, even when the holiday falls on a Monday—and the newsletter is sent on Fridays. In recent months, the CDC has only compiled this newsletter every other week, making the “weekly review” title a misnomer. And now, the CDC has announced there will be only three more issues: sent on March 31, April 14, and May 12. (Seems like the newsletter is briefly shifting to a monthly schedule before it ends?)
While the CDC will continue to regularly update its main COVID-19 dashboard and other data sources, the agency’s failure to maintain even a fairly basic update newsletter really speaks to its deprioritization of COVID-19. It honestly boggles the mind that I, a freelance journalist writing about COVID-19 data in her spare time, send updates with more continuity than the entire national public health agency.
Yet somehow, here we are! This newsletter may see continued shifts to its format, but it isn’t going anywhere.