Introducing a new resource page on wastewater data

As official COVID-19 case data become less and less reliable, wastewater surveillance can help provide a picture of where and how much the virus is spreading. This week, I put together a new COVID-19 Data Dispatch resource page that outlines major national, state, and local wastewater dashboards across the U.S.

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How one wastewater plant became a leading COVID-19 forecasting source

This week, I had a new story published with FiveThirtyEight and the Documenting COVID-19 project about the data and implementation challenges of wastewater surveillance. As bonus material in today’s COVID-19 Data Dispatch, I wanted to share one of the interviews I did for the story, which provides a good case study of the benefits and challenges of COVID-19 surveillance in wastewater.

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Idaho’s hospitals as a case study of decentralized healthcare

Last summer and fall, Idaho was completely overrun by the Delta variant. State leaders implemented crisis standards of care, a practice allowing hospitals to conserve their limited resources when they are becoming overwhelmed. All hospitals in Idaho were in crisis standards for weeks, with the northern Panhandle region remaining in this crisis mode for over 100 days.

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Contracted staffing issues in Missouri reveal broader crisis in hospitals

Early this week, I had a big story published in The Missouri Independent, as part of the Documenting COVID-19 project’s ongoing collaboration with that nonprofit newsroom. While this was a local story, to me, the piece provides important insights about the type of support that is actually needed in U.S. hospitals right now: not temporary assistance, but long-term, structural change.

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States treating COVID-19 as “endemic” is leading to shifts in data collection and reporting

Some states are making major shifts in the ways they collect and report COVID-19 data. State public health departments are essentially moving to monitor COVID-19 more like the way they monitor the flu: as a disease that can pose a serious public health threat and deserves some attention, but does not entirely dictate how people live their lives.

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Cash incentives for vaccination have little impact

While politicians at all levels have praised cash incentives, research has shown that this strategy has little impact on actually convincing Americans to get vaccinated. A recent investigation I worked on (at the Documenting COVID-19 project and the Missouri Independent) provides new evidence for this trend: the state of Missouri allocated $11 million for gift cards that residents could get upon receiving their first or second vaccine dose, but the vast majority of local health departments opted not to participate in the program—and a very small number of gift cards have been distributed thus far.

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