November 13, 2020. The Ides of November, and Friday the 13th. Appropriate day to start our PublicHealthRising blog as we're climbing the steepest COVID slope we've encountered yet in the United States. The peak is not yet in sight and we don’t know how far we are up the mountain.
This blog will aim to offer digestible updates on the most relevant and actionable items, for now with focus on COVID -- and as we get past the pandemic, branching off into other topics. This should be a great place to check in for brief updates and interpretation of the public health terrain around us. We hope that the blog helps answer questions we get from friends and family, and is written with them in mind. We also hope that the information here could be helpful to our professional colleagues in clinical medicine and public health. We think people reading this blog will already know the basics, and follow the science -- we're not aiming to change the minds of conspiracy theorists and anti-maskers, although you might find some points in here that could help. You'll see a lot of data and real-life examples pulled from Colorado, and Denver -- that's where we live! In general the idea is to illustrate broader points and trends that hold nationally. If there are times our local information doesn't represent the bigger picture well, we'll call that out.
Posts will generally not include links or references. What we write is our interpretation and opinion, based on a lot of sources we rely upon for our understanding of the situation. Here are what we might consider our top 10 sources. There are dozens more we use, but to give a sense of our go-to resources:
For trends and easy comparison of data across jurisdictions, we like the Stat News COVID tracker. It’s one of the few tools that easily toggles across counts and incidence, and as a bonus shows changes in incidence over time -- something that’s very hard to find on other sites.
Local data for us comes primarily from Denver Public Health, which has a comprehensive page.
The COVID Tracking Project has one of the best dashboards we’ve found for reporting on the disproportionate burden that communities of color have been shouldering in the United States.
Prevent Epidemics has a relatively new map based on a set of minimum essential indicators that would effectively describe the pandemic. Although it is a minimum set of indicators, however, complete information is not available in most jurisdictions. The Prevent Epidemics map is linked to CovidExitStrategy.org, which is a powerful volunteer group with a powerful visualization of state trends.
For international information, WHO and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control provide data and key updates.
inDemic is a relatively new outfit that is currently dedicated to COVID information, and does a great job pulling information in from press releases, pharmaceutical companies, research protocols, and more.
Published materials. Usually this category would focus on peer-reviewed journal articles. Of course those are still important, but pre-print has become enormously relevant (medRxiv, bioRxiv) and journalists have also been doing a fantastic job gathering timely information that might not be quite “public” yet.
Folks on the front lines. This might be anecdotal, but it is often incredibly insightful. Talking to people we know working in clinical medicine, public health, and equity initiatives provides a sense of what’s evolving before it is picked up by public health authorities.
You might notice that models are not included in this list. We do look at IHME and Forecast Hub models, and CDC has a thorough page. But the models may be of limited reliability and utility. We can understand our COVID trajectory pretty well from the sources listed above.