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When Every Day Matters: Moving the curve with data

Key among concerns with Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 is its rate of contagion and deadly effects on those susceptible. Recognizing that every day matters in flattening the curve, the Ohio Department of Health is increasing transparency to citizens, and using data to show if social distancing, raised awareness for proper hand-washing, travel restrictions, and other measures are buying more time for the state health systems as they prepare for potential waves and surges of the disease.

By now we’re familiar with tales of personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages, healthcare workers coming out of retirement to deliver care to a growing number of Coronavirus patients, and new graduates put to work on the front lines. No treatment or vaccine exists but the medical community is hard at work at innovation. There are fascinating things being done and as medical innovations come forward, it will teach us so much and might even change the curve.

For now, changing the curve is dependent on people adopting new behaviors. It’s also of top priority in many states, especially the state of Ohio.

In a recent press conference Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton explained how the disease would impact Ohio without any mitigation, and how all the measures including containment and travel bans can make a difference. Using dashboards Dr. Acton illustrated the history of spread and how citizens working together are helping to move the curve.

With an abundance of data on Coronavirus, extracting the right information requires a specialized skillset and familiarity with working with data. Data literacy enables the ability to tell the story of what’s happening and how it’s impacting the community.

Without data-driven dashboards, it would be difficult to understand the trajectory of the disease and how preventative measures are working. Increasing transparency is critical in driving action. Experts agree that with non-pharmacologic interventions, and everyone working together, it can be highly effective. The more people that stay home and out of the pool of infecting others, the slower the spread and faster return to the smallest of groups testing positive.

As a country, we are too far along with the disease to not have a surge. Despite not having a no-surge option, the measures citizens are taking increase the chances of staying healthy and saving lives. Shown visually, the data is easy to understand, and more likely to impact the behaviors and choices people make as we collectively seek to flatten the curve.

Article by Jeff Brown, vice president of consulting services, BI & Analytics and Nehul Vyas, director of consulting services, BI & Analytics. Jeff has over 20 years of experience and is passionate about helping organizations turn their data into actionable information. Nehul has over 15 years of consulting experience and plays a lead role in helping customers implement, adopt, and leverage Tableau as a data and analytics platform.