"In God we trust, all others bring data"
A White House press release today highlighted that, "[t]o monitor outcomes, the National Strategy will establish a data-driven, evidence-based approach to evaluating America’s progress in the fight against COVID-19."
Steering this ship straight will demand a truly multidisciplinary approach, especially from the data and decision-making standpoints. The COVID-19 crisis, as we well know, impacts us in many more ways than are measured through nasal swabs and bed counts. Though no buildings have fallen and no forests have burned, COVID-19 is nonetheless a complex disaster event marked by impacts to livelihoods, education, social services, mental health, housing, and much more. A focus on any one functional need - be it public health or otherwise - will continue to challenge our ability to address response and recovery in a holistic way.
As the expanded data set becomes available, it must therefore be presented such that consistent value and meaning are found across the broad stakeholder community, not just for public health but also to individuals, business owners, teachers, and others. This requires that we communicate for all data:
1) Utility ('with this data, you can better understand this aspect of the crisis')
2) Disaggregation ('while we see this across all populations, this is how the data presents in each of the following subgroups')
3) Comparability ('here's how the data we are seeing compares to what we see in these familiar conditions, situations, or other geographic areas')
4) Constraints ('data accuracy may be affected by the following factors as follows')
5) Forecastability ('there's a 75% chance we'll see X by year's end')
There's more to this story than we have allowed the data to tell. Let's be sure we're both willing and able to hear it all.