Can Biden clean up America’s COVID-19 data?

Shortly after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, the official White House website got a makeover. It now hosts the president’s priorities and COVID-19 plan—including a promise to create a “Nationwide Pandemic Dashboard.” In the coming weeks, I’ll be closely watching to see how the Biden administration follows through on these plans. Will the new administration build on the strengths of existing federal and state data systems, or will it tear down old systems and sow unnecessary confusion?

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Facility-level hospitalization data updated on schedule

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.

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HHS releases long-awaited national profile reports

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.

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Federal data updates, Dec. 13

Rounding out the week with a couple of updates on federal data, unrelated to hospitalizations and vaccines. Updates include: a new app for testing data, a CMS proposal that Medicare and Medicaid providers build standard databases, and the progress of a bill which would make federal court filings free for researchers to access.

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COVID-19 data for your local hospital

On Monday, the HHS published a new hospitalization dataset including capacity, new admissions, and other COVID-19-related numbers—for over 4,000 individual facilities across America. This is, as I put it in a COVID Tracking Project blog post analyzing the dataset, a big deal. Project lead Alexis Madrigal called it “probably the single most important data release that we’ve seen from the Federal government.” This post explains why the release is so exciting and what researchers may do with it.

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HHS’s hospitalization data are good, actually

A new analysis, published this past Friday by the COVID Tracking Project, highlights how reliable the HHS dataset has become. The analysis compares HHS’s counts of hospitalized COVID-19 patients to the Project’s counts, compiled from states. This recent work benefits from HHS’s expanded metrics and more thorough documentation from both the federal agency and states, and it finds that the two datasets match well when adjusting for definitional differences.

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