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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Opening: Five school districts that kept their communities safe

The divided communities made the news — but not all U.S. schools were fighting grounds. In fact, many districts managed to bring the majority of their students back into classrooms without breeding a dreaded COVID-19 outbreak. Here, at the COVID-19 Data Dispatch, we’re sharing stories from five such districts. The series will be published in installments: one profile a week for the next five weeks, followed by a conclusion with overall insights and lessons for fall 2021.

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Breakthrough cases: What we know right now

While epidemiologists may consider any new outbreak a possible source of new variants, one key way to monitor the virus/variant race is by analyzing breakthrough cases—those infections that occur after someone has been fully vaccinated. Here’s how states and the CDC are tracking these cases now, and what we know about vaccine protection against the variants.

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States scale down COVID-19 reporting frequency

Two weeks ago, I reported that Florida had made a big change to its COVID-19 data reporting: the state switched from daily updates to weekly updates. Other states are making similar changes. Only about half of states update their COVID-19 data every day, NPR reported last week. But it is important to view these changes in context.

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Evaluating exposure notification apps: Expanded methodology behind the story

This week, I have a new feature out in MIT Technology Review. It’s an investigation into the usage rates and public opinion of exposure notification apps—those Bluetooth-enabled systems that promised to function as a method of digital contact tracing. You can read the story here; and for the CDD this week, I wanted to provide kind-of an extended methodology behind the piece.

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