Tracking virus data could change at-risk groups’ future access to health care

The coronavirus is hitting the African American population harder than any other, and data scientists are working to gather as much information about patients who test positive for the virus so they can help doctors make more informed treatment decisions and understand why some populations are more vulnerable.

A localized virus tracking tool developed at Johns Hopkins University has the ability to track who is getting sick at the county and city levels. It could change access to health care in the future, said Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the university.

When the data is collected, she wants as many states and jurisdictions as possible to also report every patient’s underlying health conditions, risk factors and contributing factors, such as their access to health care.

“So that we can try to understand what resources may be needed in order to mitigate the impacts of these infections, like for instance, expanding health care resources,” Nuzzo said during a conference call announcing the tracking tool.

Tracking tool could help understand what makes populations susceptible to COVID-19.

At last count in D.C., 46% of 2,197 positive cases of coronavirus are African American patients.

It’s a statistic that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said during news conference on April 15 that she will continue to draw attention to after the pandemic is over, and one the university tool should help medical experts better understand.

“We need to focus on generations’ worth of economic housing and educational disparities that this pandemic is putting a spotlight on,” Bowser said.

More Coronavirus news

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up