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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer group of data analysts, researchers, and journalists brought together by The Atlantic, published its final daily update on Monday — the first anniversary of its founding.

Why it matters: The project quickly became a vital resource for news media, academic researchers, and everyday Americans to track COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the absence of reliable and public data from the federal government.

Where it stands: Eric Kissane and Alexis Madrigal, co-founders of the project, point to the release of hospitalization data from the Health and Human Services Department, the CDC's vaccine tracker, and county-level testing data from the CDC as evidence that transparency from the government has improved enough to justify winding down the project.

By the numbers: In its final update, the COVID Tracking Project said that states had reported 1.2 million tests, 41,265 new cases, 40,212 total hospitalizations, and 839 deaths.

What they're saying: "We began the work out of necessity and planned to do it for a couple of weeks at most, always in the expectation that the federal public health establishment would make our work obsolete," Kissane and Madrigal said in a February blog post.

  • "Every few months through the course of the project, we asked ourselves whether it was possible to wind down. Instead, we saw the federal government continue to publish patchy and often ill-defined data while our world-famous public health agencies remained sidelined and underfunded, their leadership seemingly inert."
  • "Although substantial gaps and complexities remain, we have seen persuasive evidence that the CDC and HHS are now both able and willing to take on the country’s massive deficits in public health data infrastructure and to offer the best available data and science communication in the interim."

Madrigal, a journalist at The Atlantic, pointed to two reasons for the new "encouraging signs" in a February NPR interview.

  • "I mean, I think the Trump administration was actively suppressing some of the information that the federal government had. That's one piece," he said. Multiple reports suggested deep politicization of the Trump administration's coronavirus response.
  • "And the second piece is just that it took a while to get the data systems online at the federal level to produce the kind of data that you would need to respond to and understand the pandemic," Madrigal added.

What's next: A full archive for data released by the project is under construction, while analysis and tips on where to find sources to replace CTP will be published until May.

Go deeper

Updated 29 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump sues New York Times and his niece over tax report

Former President Trump hosting a boxing match in Hollywood, Florida on Sept. 11. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump filed a $100 million lawsuit against the New York Times and his niece Mary Trump on Tuesday over the news outlet's 2018 reporting on his tax records, the Daily Beast first reported.

Details: The suit, filed in New York's Dutchess County, alleges NYT journalists "engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records" and that they "convinced" Mary Trump to "smuggle records out of her attorney's office and turn them over to The Times."

Brazil's health minister tests positive for COVID during UN summit in N.Y.

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro (L) and Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga in Brasilia, Brazil, in May. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queirog has tested positive for COVID-19 while in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), he confirmed Tuesday night.

Why it matters: Hours earlier, Queirog had accompanied Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to the UNGA. The Biden administration expressed concern last week that the gathering of world leaders could become a coronavirus "superspreader event."

House passes government funding, debt ceiling bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The House passed a bill on Tuesday to fund the government through early December, along with a measure to raise the debt ceiling through December 2022.

Why it matters: The stopgap measure, which needs to be passed to avoid a government shutdown when funding expires on Sept. 30, faces a difficult journey in the Senate where at least ten Republicans would need to vote in favor.