Blog Roundup: Navigating COVID-19 Data

Since March of 2020, we’ve been examining, analyzing, and working to help our community to best understand the torrent of data available for the COVID-19 pandemic. This work has culminated in our pandemic resource portal and many blogs dedicated to understanding ever-changing data, navigating Michigan’s pandemic data resources, and examining the real impact on people.

We’ve collected all of our pandemic-related data blogs in one place so that everyone can easily find the information they’re looking for to better understand and navigate over a year’s worth of COVID-19 data and resources.

Blogs on Understanding Data

Our earliest pandemic-related blog was our April 8th blog on Understanding Data During a Pandemic. This piece provides essential tips for being mindful while reading and analyzing quickly-evolving data, stressing the importance of keeping context, limitations, margin of error, and other uncertainties and changes in mind. 

This guide to responsible data consumption can be applied beyond the COVID-19 pandemic to all data, and has laid the foundation for several presentations and workshops.

Building on the ideas of responsible data consumption and making data easier to navigate, our next blog was Context is Key: Making Coronavirus Data More Actionable, which defines per capita data and its role in normalizing data for making more accurate analyses and comparisons.  

This blog uses a per-capita map that D3 developed early on in the pandemic, which we have since decommissioned, as national maps and tools have improved since then and provide great sources for that data!

Next, we examined the data quality surrounding reports of COVID-19 cases and deaths by race, and learned that in the early months of the pandemic, there were some gaps in the data that was being reported. This blog highlighted the importance of having the most complete data possible and all of the available context for the data to to understand the full story.

Early in 2021, nearly a year after the COVID-19 pandemic started, we published two blogs breaking down the testing and outbreak data for the state of Michigan, to get a more accurate understanding of how the number of cases and diagnoses have progressed in our state. 

Our COVID-19 Data Breakdown of Statewide Testing Data Turnaround Times takes a look at both the number of tests that have been reported and the average turnaround time, by week, facility, and region. Looking at this data in context provides a good idea of the state of COVID-19 testing in Michigan, and how much reporting on these numbers have improved since the start of the pandemic. 

Our COVID-19 Data Breakdown of New and Ongoing Outbreaks dives into the number of new and ongoing case outbreaks since August 2020. We put these figures in the context of reported outbreak settings and events, such as vaccine rollouts, school breaks, and venue closures to provide a better idea of what could be impacting the numbers. 

Navigating Michigan’s Available Data 

Additionally, in a world of ever-changing numbers and headlines, being able to navigate the available data resources is important for accurately understanding data, and responsibly analyzing and consuming the information. Since last year, Michigan has published several sources of pandemic-specific data that we’ve taken the time to explore and explain. 

First, we took a look at the Evolution of Michigan’s COVID Data Reporting. This blog makes a note of how much data reporting methods and dashboards for our state improved in the six months since the pandemic began, and provides records of previous pandemic records for comparison. 

Next, we took some time to Navigate Michigan’s Coronavirus Portal, exploring each of the seven tabs of data that are available with screenshots and details on what data is available. We also revisited Michigan’s coronavirus portal page to explore the Additional Michigan Data Sources that are available, detailing what information is available for each of these resource links in an easy-to-navigate format.

This year, with some progress being made on vaccination rollout, we continued exploring Michigan’s data by Navigating Michigan’s Vaccine Data Dashboard. This 10-tab data dashboard is full of highly visual data about all things related to vaccine distribution in Michigan, including shipping, administration, doses, geographic coverage, and demographic information, and we’ve provided details and screenshots for each tab to help you to mindfully explore this valuable information resource.

Impact on People 

In addition to writing about how to responsibly navigate and read pandemic-related data, we’ve also taken a look at the data collected on how people and households have been impacted by the pandemic. 

We started fairly early in pandemic by taking a look at the Economic Impact on Unemployment. This blog takes a look at how Michigan and Detroit were fairing in terms of pandemic-related employment displacement and income loss compared to other places, and which industries were hit the hardest. 

Next, we focused on Data Collection in a Pandemic, and how COVID-19 impacted the Current Population Survey (CPS) that’s conducted by the US Census Bureau. This blog touches on the importance of the CPS, and how the reduced number and quality of responses that can be collected during the pandemic can make it difficult for organizations that use the information collected to make timely and accurate decisions. 

The impact on the US Census Bureau’s data collection efforts ultimately led to the start of the Household Pulse Survey. We did a series of blogs on the data collected from this to provide an idea of how COVID-19 impacted Detroit and Michigan households in terms of education, housing affordability, food security, employment and income, and childcare. 

Our exploration of the Household Pulse Survey led to the following blog series:

Do you have any questions about navigating pandemic data or measuring household impact that our blogs haven’t answered? You can submit requests for more information on any data topic to us via AskD3!

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