The Joint Economic Committee Republicans' Reopen Readiness Metric Tracker aims to aggregate and visualize relevant real-time COVID-19 data using several data-driven criteria recommended by government agencies and health organizations. Now, over a year into the pandemic and following the peak in COVID-related cases and deaths early this year, adjusting COVID-related restrictions seems more feasible, and states are beginning to update their policies accordingly. The updated Reopen Readiness Metric Tracker provides a consolidated data resource to help inform those policy decisions.
There are several improvements incorporated into the Reopen Readiness Metric Tracker, outlined below, which aim to preserve the continuity of the data as much as possible while also enhancing the tracker’s data quality and load time:
- Vaccination Data: The hover tooltip now shows the percent of the adult population that received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, as well as the state’s daily vaccination rank, using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. The tracker reflects the share of the adult population vaccinated because vaccines are targeted towards adults, and using the total population would otherwise obscure the true rank of demographically younger states. As of March 19, New Mexico ranked first with 39.3% of the population vaccinated. Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Connecticut, and Rhode Island achieved a single-dose vaccination rate of one-third among their adult populations, as well.
- CDC Testing Data: As of March 7, the COVID Tracking Project stopped tracking new COVID-19 data. It plans to end the project in May, as federal health agencies have ramped up sufficient and timely COVID-19 data collection and publication. In light of this, the positive test rate displayed in the state hover tooltip and the state-level bar chart are based on Department of Health and Human Services data. The state-level bar chart displays the latest 14 days of state testing data available and provides the basis for the related tooltip criteria of 10 percent positive tests or less.
- Updated Population Data: The 5-Year 2015-2019 American Community Survey (ACS) population data now serves as the denominator for the tracker’s cases per million instead of the previous 5-Year 2014-2018 ACS population data. The updated ACS provides the most comprehensive population data at the state and county levels.
- New Geographic Adjustments: Previously, the tracker data presented some limitations for interpretation for a select number of geographic areas.1
- Data for Kansas City, Missouri was tabulated separately from the remaining four counties it overlaps, which somewhat obscured the count of cases and deaths in the area. The data for Kansas City has been combined with Jackson County, Missouri, given that the majority of the city lies within that county.
- Data for less populated counties in Utah were combined into regional groups, which concealed case and death data at the county level for most counties in Utah. The total cases and deaths for each regional group are now divided evenly among counties within a respective regional group, and the total population of the regional group is averaged to create a denominator for the new cases per million estimate.2 Thus, each county within a regional group displays the same information—the regional group average for cases, deaths, and cases per million. While not exact, this provides a better idea of the extent of cases per million and cumulative cases and deaths within counties of a regional group.
- Finally, COVID-19 data from New York City is now broken out into its respective boroughs.
- New 7-day Average Line: There is a new 7-day rolling average line on the New Daily Cases chart for the state and county levels. The line provides a better visual guide of whether cases are rising or falling, particularly where states or counties do not report cases on a daily basis or delay case reports.
- Loading Time Improvements: As the quantity of data grew, the load time for these sources increased. Now the data is pulled only once per weekday, eliminating long and redundant loading times. Additionally, the interactive is now viewable on Microsoft Edge.
With more and more Americans vaccinated for COVID-19, many states have already moved into reopening phases. By consolidating the new information on vaccination rates with the existing state and county level parameters for monitoring reopen readiness, the data can continue to inform policymakers’ decisions as they move towards fully reopening in the coming months.
1 In addition, Rhode Island only reports deaths at the state level. Deaths for Dukes and Nantucket counties are aggregated together. In Alaska, data for Bristol Bay Borough includes data for Lake and Peninsula Borough, and similarly, data for Yakutat City and Borough includes data for Hoonah-Angoon Census Area. See for more information: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/us-map-faq and https://github.com/nytimes/covid-19-data
2 The Utah regional groups and their respective counties are as follows: Bear River (Box Elder, Cache, and Rich counties); Weber-Morgan (Weber and Morgan Counties); TriCounty (Duchesne, Uintah and Daggett counties); Central Utah (Sevier, Millard, Juab, Sanpete, Wayne and Piute counties); Southwest Utah (Beaver, Iron, Washington, Kane and Garfield counties); and Southeast Utah (Grand, Emery and Carbon counties). Utah counties with individual metrics include: Davis, San Juan, Salt Lake, Summit, Tooele, Utah and Wasatch. See for more information: https://coronavirus.utah.gov/case-counts/