New study reveals disparities in COVID-19 mortality by sex and race

A new study from the GenderSci Lab at Harvard sheds light on how race and sex intersect in COVID-19 death rates. Researchers Tamara Rushovich et al. used data from the only two states that do provide COVID-19 mortality data on sex and race: Georgia and Michigan. The patterns they found in both states complicate the well-known trend that men are more likely to die of COVID-19 than women.

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Goodnight, COVID Tracking Project

A couple of hours after I send today’s newsletter, I will do my final shift of data entry work on the COVID Tracking Project’s Testing and Outcomes dataset. Then, later in the evening, I will do my final shift on the COVID Racial Data Tracker. And then I will probably spend another hour or two bothering my fellow volunteers on Slack because I don’t want it to be over quite yet.

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Diving into COVID-19 data #2: Workshop recap

Our second workshop happened this week! Liz Essley Whyte, an investigative reporter at the Center for Public Integrity, discussed her work bringing White House COVID-19 reports to the public before they were officially released. Erica Hensley, an independent health and data journalist based in Jackson, Mississippi, provided advice for navigating relationships with local public health officials based on her work reporting on COVID-19 in Mississippi. And Tom Meagher, a senior editor at The Marshall Project, described the communication and coordination work behind his newsroom’s yearlong tracker of COVID-19 in the U.S. prison system. Thank you to everyone who attended!

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Diving into COVID-19 data #1: Workshop recap

Our first workshop happened this week! Drew Armstrong, Bloomberg News’s senior editor for health care, talked about his work on the publication’s Vaccine Tracker; and Arielle Levin Becker, director of communications and strategic initiatives for the Connecticut Health Foundation, discussed how to navigate COVID-19 race and ethnicity data. Thank you to everyone who attended—we had a great turnout!

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COVID-19 data whistleblower Rebekah Jones gets arrested, tests positive

Late Sunday, January 17, COVID-19 data scientist Rebekah Jones turned herself in to Florida Law Enforcement authorities. The charge against her, according to a press release from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) on the 18th, is “one count of offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks and electronic devices”. She allegedly hacked a government communication system and sent an authorized message urging workers to “[s]peak up before another 17,000 are dead.”

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Vaccination is a logistics problem

The federal government is distributing millions of doses each week, and many of those doses are making it into arms. By sheer numbers, we are already on track to meet President Biden’s 100 million vaccinations in 100 days goal. Our current problem is, in fact, a logistics one. It’s a build up of infrastructure failures, with all the weight falling on underfunded local public health departments.

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We’re not doing enough sequencing to detect B.1.1.7

A new, more transmissible strain of COVID-19 (known as B.1.1.7) has caused quite a stir these past few weeks. It surfaced in the United Kingdom and has been detected in eight states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, New York, Texas, and Pennsylvania. The fact that a mutant strain happened isn’t a surprise, as RNA viruses mutate quite often. But as vaccines roll out, the spread of a new strain is yet another reminder that we’re nowhere near out of the woods yet.

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