Update, April 28: Berkeleyside took another look at how Bay Area health departments are sharing their data.
Original story: As lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases have risen throughout the Bay Area, the appetite for data about the pandemic has grown, too. But, depending on where you live, the amount of information you can get varies significantly. Some places have made it easy for the public to see basic figures, such as the number of cases and deaths, along with data about hospitalizations and testing. Other jurisdictions, including Berkeley and Alameda County, not so much.
All of these places have different resources — including money and staff — available to create dashboards and other information for the public. For this report, Berkelyside is simply comparing what sort of COVID-19 statistics are currently available around the region. In a virtual town hall event over the weekend, Dr. Lisa Hernandez, Berkeley’s health officer, said the city plans to share more detail soon. But the city was not available to provide more information about that prior to publication.
The gold standard: Sonoma County
Sonoma County has created a COVID-19 dashboard that includes both its statistics and some of the figures available in the broader region. The screenshot at the top of this report shows that dashboard, which has information on both active and total cases in Sonoma County, as well as test results, hospitalizations, the infection source, gender and age, and even the part of the county linked to the infection.
The dashboard includes Bay Area figures for total cases, and a chart showing the Sonoma County cases over time.
And that’s not all. The dashboard also includes a link to the county’s “planning report,” which has fast facts on vulnerable populations and health insurance coverage, as well as poverty levels and lots of other data.
For those who don’t want to dive into the dashboard, the county is also posting a daily snapshot that includes numbers for cases, deaths, tests and recovery figures.
Santa Clara County also has a dashboard
Santa Clara County — the second hardest-hit location in California as far as COVID-19 deaths — launched its own dashboard late last week. It shows total cases and new cases along with age and gender. There’s age and gender information about those who have died, including whether they had additional health conditions.
The dashboard does not currently include testing data, but Santa Clara did report as of about a week ago that it had tested about 650 people. Worth noting that many agencies report testing figures that are significantly higher than the number of patients tested. That’s because multiple samples are often taken from one person. So, in the case of Santa Clara County, there were 1,044 samples taken from 650 people. One general rule of thumb is that there can often be two samples per patient.
Marin County is sharing a lot of information
Marin County doesn’t have a dashboard, but it’s sharing quite a bit of information on its website: total confirmed cases by day; age and gender of cases; respiratory illness information by date; medical dispatches and emergency room visits. It also has a new “surveillance” page where its stats are tracked.
One thing Marin County is doing really well is its daily roundup, which includes confirmed cases (and the percentage increase over the prior day); tests and hospitalizations; and confirmed cases and deaths in the state. The daily roundup comes out at the end of the day and seems to provide a good resource for what is known, even statewide, as of that time.
Solano County dashboard
Solano County is updating its dashboard daily with total confirmed cases and deaths, as well as active and new cases. It’s also reporting hospitalizations and patient age range. There are charts that show the daily cases and the cumulative total over time. According to the dashboard, testing figures and more information about hospitalizations will be added soon.
Napa County has daily “situation updates,” testing figures
On its website, Napa County is posting local, state, national and international figures on COVID-19 cases and deaths. It’s also posting daily “situation updates” as well as testing figures. Napa is also updating a chart with daily emergency room visits for “influenza-like” illnesses.
Santa Cruz County does a weekly infographic
Santa Cruz County isn’t putting out a huge amount of daily info — just verified cases and deaths — but it does publish a weekly infographic showing cases and deaths as well as patient ages and genders. English and Spanish versions are available.
Other agencies seem to be releasing the minimum
A handful of Bay Area agencies — including Berkeley — are only putting out the very basics on their COVID-19 websites.
Contra Costa County
Contra Costa County isn’t sharing much in the way of figures — just cases and deaths — but its website does make it crystal clear where the numbers stand. The website also includes video reports from county officials. There’s also a very clear timestamp so it’s obvious when the last update happened.
San Mateo County
Ditto with San Mateo County: The only statistical information is about cases and deaths, but it does include the daily update time in a transparent way. San Mateo was also putting out statements from its health officer, but there hasn’t been a new one in a week.
San Francisco puts out basic figures about cases and deaths. That seems to be about it for statistics. It’s useful, however, that the website includes the daily update time so people know when the new numbers are released.
Alameda County makes its cases and deaths clear by putting it at the top of its page. It took awhile, but the county eventually added a disclaimer about how its figures do not include cases from Berkeley, which has its own public health division. The county hasn’t posted a new “situation update” since March 16 and seems to be one of the least active in the region as far as letting the public know what is happening.
Berkeley publishes its COVID-19 figures at the bottom of its coronavirus page. All the other agencies post this information at the top of their sites to make it easier to find. The city only shares total case numbers — nothing about hospitalizations or testing, ages or genders — but, presumably, would also share figures about COVID-19 deaths if they occur. Berkeley has also struggled to make it clear when an update was actually published; the dates on its site are sometimes in conflict. The city says it’s working to improve this and to provide additional information.
The state of California
From what we’ve seen, the state of California isn’t getting too fancy with how it shares COVID-19 statistics. Monday’s daily update includes overall stats about cases and deaths, as well as gender and age for all cases. There’s basic information on testing figures statewide. At one point, the state was also providing some details about types of transmission and how many people were in self-quarantine, but that has stopped.