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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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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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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15 states are reporting COVID-19 vaccination data—federal government lags behind

This past week, the first COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered to frontline healthcare workers across the country. The FDA issued Emergency Use Authorization to a second vaccine. But I haven’t seen a vaccination dashboard from the CDC. This federal agency is lagging behind several states that are making their vaccination counts public, as well as journalists who have already begun to compile the limited information that’s available.

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