How many Americans hear or read about COVID-19 cases, deaths and trends each day? The numbers are distributed globally, nationally and regionally in vivid colorful and dynamic databases. The average American probably doesn’t think about where or how that data is collected.
The glamorous reports that are seen at the national level start with one person or team at each hospital across the nation. In addition to their current full-time jobs, these team members spend a good portion of every morning coordinating a massive collaboration of different disciplines, resources and technology that will culminate into a daily submission to a national database.
In California, COVID data reporting started with hospital supply shortages, number of beds and number of COVID patients. Currently, the reporting has evolved into 120 plus mandatory elements that are reported daily. Data definitions, sources, submission templates and requirements for federal, state and counties are not aligned. Even testing data was challenging in the beginning. Most of the testing was sent outside the organization initially with long turnaround times. This made it difficult to pull number of tests and their results electronically. Technologically savvy readers will understand the complexity of trying to automate this level of detail solely through electronic means.