Sep 14, 2022 - Health

Johns Hopkins is reducing its COVID data tracking

People walk past a signboard with COVID-19 control measures at the World Trade Center in New York.
People walk past a signboard with COVID-19 control measures. Photo: Wang Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Johns Hopkins University is scaling back how much and how frequently it tracks COVID-19 pandemic metrics due to a slowdown in local data reporting, the university confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: There will be less attention on COVID case numbers and deaths, which could leave Americans in the dark about future surges.

Details: The university's data dashboard — which helped track case numbers, deaths and other metrics — will begin a slowdown on Sept. 21 since there is less reporting data available in the U.S. and around the world, according to university officials.

  • The dashboard will now update with daily global case numbers, deaths and vaccine data, instead of every hour.
  • Testing numbers will be dropped from the dashboard completely since more people have shifted to using at-home tests, which aren't tracked by health authorities.
  • It will also collect data from other sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • "The changes are being driven by the declining quality and utility of pandemic data reported by state governments," the university said in an email to Axios.

What they're saying: “We have seen a dramatic shift in the way that state and local governments not only collect this data but share it publicly,” Beth Blauer, data head for the university's Coronavirus Resource Center, told Wall Street Journal. “That deeply constrains the way that we can actually report.”

The big picture: Americans are still keeping an eye on the pandemic even if they're ready to move past it. The Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index found 65% disagreed that the pandemic is over, while 33% agreed.

  • “Most Americans have turned the page on the COVID pandemic, even as most acknowledge the virus is likely to be with us for the long term," Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs, told Axios.
  • "While interest in easy preventatives, like the new Omicron-specific booster, remains high, most people are taking COVID risks in stride."

What we're watching: Democrats are acting cautious about mentioning COVID-19 with the midterms ahead since they don't want to highlight the public health threat before people head to the polls, Axios' Adriel Bettelheim writes.

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