Data to help track the pandemic


By Jacob Fenton


Data Journalism
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With COVID-19 cases spiking faster than testing can keep up with, a more useful metric in tracking the pandemic may be how full hospitals are. The Accountability Project runs a number of “datasettes” intended to make the federal data on hospitalization (by hospital, updated weekly, or by state, updated daily) more easy to use, with “canned queries,” basic charting, and the opportunity to write your own SQL. 

Here are some metrics we’re tracking. Most of these require you to add your state’s two-digit abbreviation and hit “search.”

See: Number of hospitals short on staff today; total COVID hospitalization by state; adult ICU hospitalization by state; pediatric hospitalization by state. In general these metrics can be charted by clicking through the “show charting options” dialogue in which the results appear. Charts can be shared by URL too, although the URLs get really long. Here is ICU hospitalization in DC.

The state data is useful for a summary look, but reporters looking for anecdotes might prefer facility level files that include weekly averages. These lag a little; the date used is the start of the seven-day week.

Here’s a query that compares hospital ICU occupancy in a state to the prior week. (Note that HHS uses values of -999999 for numbers less than 4.) Here are the reported pediatric variables for all hospitals in a state.

Also read more about the awesome datasette project.

Related links:

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