Where do Americans get their Covid-19 data from?

This is the inside story of how a group of journalists, optimists, academics and hundreds of volunteers built @COVID19Tracking project to tell the U.S. how the pandemic is evolving.

The folks at @COVID19Tracking, including @alexismadrigal @kissane and many others, invited me in to look under the hood, hang out in their Slack, do some data entry, and generally interview anyone I wanted. It was incredibly trusting, and I can't thank everyone there enough.
I'll share here some observations that are in the piece:

One thing that really surprised me was the lack of politics/political discourse. The volunteers -- and they're almost all volunteers -- are very, very much about the data and getting the numbers right.
To the extent that there's any lament or anger (and I asked everyone if they had any), it's *incredibly* earnest. They're upset about data-transparency standards. Or about weak IT pipelines between local/state/federal health depts. (And they're mad about it in a v polite way.)
For example, this was a pretty standard answer:
Also, just as an aside, @BW did a bang up job w/ the print art here: bloomberg.com/news/features/…
The other sense you get from talking to the volunteers and volunteers-turned-staff is that this is kind of what the Internet could have been: A bunch of curious, technically competent (or just very willing) people who came together online to build something for the public good.
There are journalists like @alexismadrigal + @yayitsrob, editor-community-tech(ish)-defy description people like @kissane, and then everyone from band tour managers, students, librarians, academics, etc.
And I really cannot emphasize enough the overriding sense of *niceness* that pervades the place. Any conversation w/ somebody who has been there a long time returns, at some point, to the culture they have.
There is, also, a sense of tiredness. These people have been doing this for a while, and keep doing it, but also wonder... why they are still having to:

“We just sort of figured, of course the CDC would put out this information,” Madrigal says. “But it just never happened.”
The CDC actually does *have* much of this info, as does HHS. But it's very hard to find, presented messily, and in some cases kept private for the gov't.

It's also pretty clear that CDC wasn't built to respond to a U.S.-wide outbreak of a new disease:
To be fair here -- everyone I've ever spoken to at CDC is 1) very kind, 2) very smart, 3) wants to get this right.

But they don't seem to have the tools in hand or the organization culture to do it.
Anyways, it's been a very fun week for publishing stories about the pandemic that are not just deeply depressing! I coulda written 6,000 words about @COVID19Tracking, but I'm pretty sure @amandakhurley might not have loved that.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Drew Armstrong

Drew Armstrong Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @ArmstrongDrew

19 Nov
A few months ago, I asked the makers of Lysol if they'd tell me every last thing about how they make it and how it works.

Twenty hours of interviews later, a lot of chemistry, and many, many questions about trains, air freight and factories...

Please come for the ethanol chemistry, and stay for the quat supply chain stories:
Lysol's parent, @discoverRB, is on track to make 35 million cans a month in the North American market. Their usual max -- running 7 day a week, 24 hours a day, is 10 million.
Read 13 tweets
21 Sep
Some good news: There are signs #Covid19 is getting less deadly for hospitalized patients as doctors gain experience and a handful of new drugs have come online
This is, to be clear, about *individual* risk. How many people get seriously ill or die at the country will still depend largely on the rate of spread. For that to go down, it's public health measures and a vaccine. bloomberg.com/news/articles/…
That's because, as @FayCortez wrote here, it's very, very, very difficult to come up with *cures* for viruses. The best bets are supportive care, etc: bloomberg.com/news/articles/…
Read 10 tweets
14 Sep
The Trump administration's top health spokesman has deleted his personal account, after a string of late-night posts in which he appeared to call for tear-gassing reporters and used some salty language while arguing online.
(deleted earlier tweet in it w/ typo in description of Caputo's role)
Here are the tweets:
Read 5 tweets
4 Sep
BREAKING: Vaccine makers are planning a public statement to push back on pressure on the FDA: bloomberg.com/news/articles/…
The effort is shaping up as a joint statement from the leading companies developing Covid-19 vaccines, including Pfizer, Moderna, Glaxo, Sanofi, J&J and others, @langreth
"No company wants to have anything approved but under the strictest standards, the gold standard at the FDA," said the former head of BIO @JimGreenwood
Read 5 tweets
25 Mar
NYC has started publishing some really great data on cases in the city -- breakdowns by age, illness status -- and doing it in real time:
Some data that tracks what we've seen in other outbreaks -- elderly most at risk, but people in middle age certainly not immune.
Another common trend -- 95% of people who have died so far had an underlying health condition ... BUT
Read 13 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!