The COVID Tracking Project is (nearly) gone. Can we see clearly now?

One evening in early March of last year, Alexis C. Madrigal and Robinson Meyer, colleagues at The Atlantic, set out to answer a simple question: how many people had been tested for the coronavirus in the US so far? The answer, it turned out, was actually quite complicated: in the absence of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it was hard to tell whether low reported case rates to that point reflected low incidence or low testing. Madrigal and Meyer sent a form email to health officials in every state; they soon found out that the answer was the latter, and that the federal government did not have a handle on the numbers. As Emily Sohn reported for CJR, Jeff Hammerbacher—a data scientist who had been working to track the same information, and who knew Madrigal from college—saw their work and reached out. They teamed up, and soon, the COVID Tracking Project was born. It was meant, initially, as a short-term gap-filler. “Every day,” Erin Kissane, its managing editor, told Sohn in late March, “we hope the CDC will put us out of business.” But the days went by, and the CDC did not, leaving the Tracking Project’s collective of journalists and tech folk to serve, in their own words, as “a de facto source of pandemic data for the United States.” The Atlantic agreed to host the project; its team grew to include hundreds of volunteers, and the project’s founders solicited philanthropic donations to pay some of them. “It just got really complex,” Madrigal told... Continue reading at 'Columbia Journalism Review'

[ Columbia Journalism Review | 2021-03-17 12:29:53 UTC ]
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