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BACKUP v4 Covid

Situation:

Our COVID data page displaying increasingly irrelevant information, including historical data and measures that have lost reliability due to the widespread adoption of at-home testing.

Background:

We are operating with the third iteration of the COVID data page on our site. The first was created in March 2020 by Ally, and captured data that focused on raw numbers and an exploding crisis.

By the fall of 2020, it became clear that reporting the raw data was not providing the full story, and we needed to completely revamp the charts we were using to better capture the trends in cases, deaths, etc.

In 2021, we iterated again to account for vaccinations, at first adding an animated bar chart to show the rate of vax adoption across the state. By the end of the year, we again changed things up, removing the increasingly useless hospital bed pie charts and simplified the vax numbers display, since adoption rates had slowed significantly.

Assessment:

We're now nearly three years into the pandemic, entering a phase of endemic. And the measures we've relied on are no longer as reliable; for example, the positivity rate is almost certainly an undercount, as is the 7-day average of new cases. Tracking wastewater data instead would provide a much more accurate measure of covid spread in the MWRA system communities, where the bulk of our audience lives.

Another problem is how we're displaying the information: our charts still represent a historical view, rather than a giving readers a focus on how things are trending right now. The spike that came with the onset of omicron also flattened the detail both before and after that surge, making the charts less meaningful to readers.

Recommendation:

Retire the cases and positivity charts, both of which now represent undercounts thanks to at-home testing.

Add a wastewater data chart, though we must determine the cadence for updating this material.

Rework the hospitalization chart to focus on whether cases are primarily for Covid, or if COVID is incidental to the reason a person was hospitalized.

Convert all charts to focus on the previous 90 days. We can still provide links to the full historical data charts, which will still exist and still be updated.

Determine whether we change how we report vaccination data, or retire the module.

Mock-up in progress:


Tracking New Confirmed Cases And Deaths

Each week, Massachusetts reports its COVID-19 data, including the latest reported cases and deaths.

It often takes a few days for hospitals, labs and other facilities to report the data.

You may note that the charts show a sharp drop-off for the last few days. Keep in mind that may not mean an actual decrease in the numbers, but a delay in the state's reporting.


Tracking wastewater

When nearly all COVID-19 testing was done by medical professionals in hospitals or testing sites, tracking cases of the illness was easier. Now, with the prevalence of at-home testing, many people who contract COVID no longer seek a professional test or any care until they feel ill, which means the case counts now likely represent an undercount.

Wastewater, meanwhile, will always display incidences of COVID-19 rna whether a person seeks care or not. The following data is compiled by the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority and Biobot Analytics.


Coronavirus In The Hospital

A key metric in combating the pandemic has been hospitalization: We want to make sure that any wave of infections does not exceed our ability to treat people with the most serious cases. But not everyone in the hospital with COVID is being treated primarily for COVID. Sometimes, the COVID is an unwanted co-traveler while a person is being treated for something else.


Town-By-Town Data

The following map and table are updated every Thursday, when the state releases new municipal data. To see the state's daily reports, click here.

You can also search for your city or town using the table below.


Vaccinations

The above numbers indicate the percentage of all Massachusetts residents partially or fully vaccinated, according to the Department of Public Health (DPH). Population percentages are based on the preliminary 2020 census data for Massachusetts.


The Pandemic To Date In Massachusetts

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