Johns Hopkins targets COVID-19 data problems

Johns Hopkins University is launching a new effort to improve public COVID-19 information reported through its Coronavirus Resource Center.

According to the university, expert analyses has revealed “a troubling truth” about the data:

“In the absence of standards and uniform methods, the states used an uneven patchwork of policies and disjointed reporting that hampered efforts to slow COVID-19’s spread; sowed confusion for policymakers and the public; and hindered the ability to target resources to the most vulnerable and measure the effectiveness of public health interventions and vaccinations,” Johns Hopkins said in a release.

The Coronavirus Resource Center will be investigating both state and national data discrepancies, which it said have cropped up in all aspects.

That includes reporting testing results and tracking vaccine distribution.

Johns Hopkins said inconsistent data practices are making it harder to bring the pandemic to an end. It said a lack of demographic data to fully illustrate the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has inflicted on minority communities and how resources for medical care and vaccinations were not equitably distributed are among the “most troubling” aspects.

“There is a lot of complexity in the way COVID-19 data has been collected and reported that we haven’t been able to fully contextualize because of a lack of uniformity in how state and federal agencies manage it,” said Beth Blauer, Associate Vice Provost for Public Sector Innovation and the CRC data lead.

“The PDI aims to explain how the data got to where it is and explore the opportunities for creating more high value public data sets.”

The new initiative will feature a blog and updated analyses.

Johns Hopkins has more information available online.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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