National numbers, September 5

Nationally, the current COVID-19 surge appears to be in a plateau. The number of new cases rose by just 5% this week, after a 3% rise last week. Hospitalizations are in a similar position: the number of patients in the hospital with COVID-19 has held steady at about 90,000 for the past two weeks.

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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 profile: Personal responsibility in Andrews, Texas

Andrews Independent School District, in West Texas, prioritized personal responsibility, giving families information to make individual choices about their children’s safety. Partnerships with the local health department, outdoor classes, increased ventilation, and an intensive cleaning regimen also helped keep cases down — even though the district did not follow all CDC protocols, such as required quarantines and masks for the youngest students.

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National numbers, August 29

COVID-19 cases in the U.S. just keep rising, approaching 150,000 new cases a day. Case numbers have not been this high since January, during the winter surge. The case rise does seem to be decelerating, however: cases are only up 3% this week compared to last week, after much higher jumps in late July and early August.

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U.S. moves to approve booster shots despite minimal evidence

This week, the federal government announced that the U.S. intends to provide third vaccine doses to all Americans who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. This booster shot distribution will start in September, with adults becoming eligible once they hit eight months after their second shot. Many epidemiologists, vaccine experts, global health experts, and other scientists have criticized the decision.

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Opening profile: Community over wifi in Garrett County, Maryland

Unlike other districts in Maryland, Garrett County Public Schools was able to bring the majority of its students back to classrooms during the spring 2021 semester. The district built trust with its community by utilizing local partnerships, providing families with crucial supplies, setting up task forces to plan reopening, and communicating extensively with parents.

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National numbers, August 22

COVID-19 cases continue to rise, with the U.S. seeing almost one million new cases this week (or more than one million, according to some non-CDC trackers). Deaths are also increasing, up 11% from last week and up almost 200% from late July. The vast majority of these deaths continue to occur in unvaccinated Americans.

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