One data researcher’s journey through South Carolina’s COVID-19 reporting

I invited Philip Nelson to contribute a post this week after reading his Tweets about his ongoing challenges in accessing his state’s hospitalization data. Basically, after Philip publicized a backend data service that enabled users to see daily COVID-19 patient numbers by individual South Carolina hospital, the state restricted this service’s use—essentially making the data impossible for outside researchers to analyze.

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COVID source callout: States go dark on prison case numbers

We’ve noted in recent months that several states have scaled down their COVID-19 reporting: states are providing fewer metrics, updating their dashboards less frequently, or both. According to the UCLA COVID Behind Bars data project, these changes are also hitting state carceral agencies—responsible for reporting COVID-19 cases in prisons and jails—right as Delta causes new outbreaks in these facilities. 

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COVID source shout-out: Transparency in Utah

Utah hasn’t hit 70% adult vaccinations yet—but a recent data error led state officials to erroneously announce the benchmark had been hit. Spencer Cox, Utah’s governor, posted an apology on Twitter that drew attention for his commitment to transparency and accountability.

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COVID source callout: Vaccine incentives

In the June 6 issue, one of our featured sources was a page from the federal government’s vaccine.gov site, providing an extensive list of rewards for Americans who got their shots—ranging from free Krispy Kreme donuts to a United Airlines sweepstakes. Now, however, that same page only offers a small list of support options for Americans who may need assistance in making their appointments. These include childcare support and free rides from Uber and Lyft; still valuable information, but a huge change from the previous page.

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COVID source shout-out: The CDD vaccinations page

Since early January, the COVID-19 Data Dispatch has maintained a page of detailed annotations on all the major sources for vaccination data in the U.S. This includes government sources (the CDC, all 50 states, and D.C.), along with a few notable news publications and independent dashboards. The page is now switching to an every-other-week update schedule from every week.

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