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States scale back virus reporting just as cases surge | US & World News – Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City, Missouri 2021-07-24 13:08:09 –

Omaha, Nebraska (AP) — Just as cases across the country have begun to surge, some states have reduced their COVID-19 statistics reports this month in real time on community outbreaks, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. I robbed the people of information. ..

The transition to weekly rather than daily reports in Florida, Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota closely tracks case numbers and trends to navigate the crisis in which the coronavirus dashboard killed more than 600,000 people. Americans have made significant changes during the American classic pandemic

In Nebraska, two weeks after Governor Pete Ricketts declared the end of an official virus emergency, the state actually stopped reporting the virus altogether and either submitted a request for public records to the press. Forced to visit national websites that track state data and learn about COVID. statistics. The state turned back two weeks later and came up with a weekly site that provided some basic numbers.

Other governments went in the opposite direction and released more information. This week, Washington, DC added a dashboard of breakthrough cases showing the number of people infected with the virus after vaccination. Recently, many states have begun to report virus counts only on weekdays.

When Florida changed the frequency of virus reports earlier this month, officials said it made sense given the decline in case numbers and the increase in the number of people vaccinated.

Cases quickly began to surge, with Florida accounting for one-fifth of the country’s new coronavirus infections earlier this week. As a result, Florida’s weekly release (usually on Friday afternoon) has affected the country’s understanding of the current summer surge, with state-wide COVID statistics coming out of the virus hotspot six days a week. there is no.

In Florida’s last two-week report, the number of new cases surged from 23,000 to 45,000 and surged to 73,000 on Friday, averaging over 10,000 days. In some parts of the state, hospital space is starting to run out.

As the incidents increased, Democrats and other critics urged state officials and Governor Ron DeSantis to reopen the latest updates on daily outbreaks.

Anna Escamani, a Democrat in the Orlando region, said:

The tendency to reduce data reporting has surprised infectious disease professionals who believe that more information is better during a pandemic. People have come to rely on state virus dashboards to decide whether to attend large rallies or wear masks in public. Understanding the level of risk in the community affects how people respond to virus restrictions and vaccination calls.

“Because the actions taken by companies, the actions taken by schools, the actions taken by citizen leaders, the actions taken by community leaders, and the actions taken by each of us are all affected, it is actually possible to show data to others. We know it’s important Dr. Karsten Bibins Domingo, head of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, said:

However, by reporting weekly numbers, you can see overall trends while smoothing out some of the daily fluctuations that result from the way cases are reported, rather than the actual number of new cases. Experts have also long advised that it makes more sense to pay more attention to the 7-day moving average of new cases, as the numbers can vary widely from day to day.

Florida health officials also say they have not reduced data sharing with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Maintaining daily virus updates requires considerable resources for the state. For example, Kansas reported virus counts three times a week in May. This is because the state health department said it would take too long to provide daily statistics for staff who are already overwhelmed.

In Nebraska, authorities are currently updating the virus dashboard daily, as it may indicate that website views are steadily declining and interest in that number is low. We have determined that we are not making the most of our resources. .. If the Governor’s Office decides it is necessary, she said the state can return to providing daily updates.

“As Nebraska returned to normal, some of the staff who were devoted to the dashboard were able to focus on some of the other important issues,” Duck said.

Although the state health department has a long history of regularly publishing updates on other illnesses such as influenza and West Nile fever, these viruses have no political baggage associated with COVID-19.

In Florida, a former health employee was fired last year after a manager publicly suggested that he wanted to manipulate information about coronavirus statistics to draw more rosy pictures. Employee Rebekah Jones did not claim data tampering, but her comments cast doubt on the reliability of the metric.

Infectious disease expert Dr. David Brett-Major said that for many, national websites such as those run by the CDC are a good source of data on the latest state trends, and weekly updates are fine. Said there is a possibility. He said the World Health Organization often uses weekly updates, but not for political reasons, but for practical data management reasons.

He said the message Nebraska sent when he exited the dashboard that the emergency was over and the condition was back to normal was annoying.

“The main problem is that it reflects an indifference to pandemic risk management,” said Brett Major of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

Janet Hamilton, Executive Director of the State and Regional Epidemiologist Council, said some of the issues were more labor-intensive by creating daily dashboards because public health authorities generally do not have sophisticated data systems. Said that. Public health agencies have funding to operate during periods of high pandemic government spending, but they have not always had the opportunity to upgrade.

“It would be great if daily reports became widely available, but to do so we need to fund more public health, but now that’s not the case,” says Hamilton.

In states where virus numbers aren’t published daily, health officials are still looking at the latest data, Hamilton said.

But when the Delta variant is “spreading incredibly efficiently” in the words of the CDC director, Bibbins-Domingo said it’s important for everyone to see the latest trends and understand the risks. rice field.

“Even if decision makers know that it’s available on a daily basis, it’s still worthwhile to provide the data to the public,” she said.

Associated Press writer Bobby Caina Calvan contributed to this report.



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