Publishing community-based data on the coronavirus pandemic for the public can be a useful strategy to fight the outbreak, according to a Boston-based expert.
“I would say that more granular information would be useful, within the overall view of the virus across this country (and with information about the global evolution of the outbreak),” Gerald T. Keusch, an epidemic and global health expert from Boston University, told The Epoch Times in an email.
While public information about the CCP virus is available at the country, state, and county level, it is difficult to find reliable information at the municipal level in the United States.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
The Epoch Times reached out to the health departments of the three worst-affected states—New York, Washington, and California—but none of them have municipality or neighborhood level statistics available for the public.
“We do not drill down to zip code or individual cities,” the Washington State Health Department told The Epoch Times in an email.
While the New York State Health Department directed the media to the county-based information available on their website, Marty Lipp, the spokesperson of the New York Community Trust, a New York-based charitable organization that’s reaching out communities amidst the pandemic through small-sized non-profits, said it has no community-based data.
“I would imagine the only folks who would possibly have that are the government entities trying to keep pace with spread of the virus,” Lipp told The Epoch Times in an email.
The media also reached out to the CDC, HHS, and the New York City mayor’s office for response, but didn’t get one at the time this report was written.
Few Information Projects
While the granular data is not collated by the state and federal administration for the public, there are a few projects by non-profits and some scattered efforts by a few local administrations.
The San Diego Foundation told The Epoch Times that San Diego county publishes daily COVID-19 reports about each of its municipalities.
The latest report from Tuesday (pdf) lists 213 confirmed cases of infection in the county, with the most, 134, coming from San Diego.
Another online tracker, COVID-19: Local Action Tracker by Bloomberg Philanthropies, provides nationwide data for individual cities.
The project, supported by the National League of Cities (NLC), said on its website that since the global crisis is unprecedented, the scope of the local government response becomes very significant, indicating that city-based data is important.
“These extraordinary efforts will have far-reaching implications to public health, municipal services, and local economies that we are only beginning to comprehend.
“Our goal is to ensure mayors, city leaders, and other local decision makers have the information they need to lead their communities through this crisis,” said the project on its website.
The NLC project also collates the population impacted in each city, the policy area, as well as a description of the policy.
The project also encourages local leaders to submit their data and related information.
Need for Caution
While the granular information can be significant in developing intervention plans for the crisis, it also demands caution from the public.
“Behavior varies and for some information that there are fewer cases in their community may promote behavior that is inappropriate—for example people piling in to bars because they don’t think they are at risk. That’s a good way to increase transmission and spread,” said Keusch.
The Massachusetts-based expert said information is important but people should know how to value it and utilize it.
“I am a believer in the value of information, but people need to be willing to think about the implications for themselves, their community, and beyond,” he said.
Keusch said it’s important that the information coming to the public from the president at the community level be “consistent, on message, based on public health principles …”