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Maryland nonprofit releases wealth of COVID-19 data

A local nonprofit organization announced Thursday it has launched an online website to help policymakers understand and track the impacts of COVID-19 in the state.

The Baltimore Regional Recovery Dashboard, which was created by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, features data and visualizations that detail unemployment claims, impacted industries and transportation ridership.

The dashboard presents unemployment insurance claims for all states and Maryland counties by industry. It also provides data on economically “exposed” sectors.

These sectors include those that have experienced significant reductions in demand, such as restaurants and bars, travel and transportation, entertainment and personal services types of retail. The dashboard compares the most exposed sectors across jobs, gross regional product, pay-rolled business locations, and median hourly wages.

BMC says on its website that it works collaboratively with the chief elected officials in the region to create initiatives to improve our quality of life and economic vitality.

Michael B. Kelly, executive director of BMC, said the data on traffic impacts is the most significant highlight from the dashboard.

Maryland Transit Administration ridership has been down between 61 and almost 78 percent since a stay-at-home order was issued in March, according to the dashboard. The most recent data provided comes from the week of Jun. 29, when ridership decreases were the least severe they had been since March.
The dashboard also shows what percentage of a county’s residents have stayed home daily; how many miles have been traveled by a person; and how many trips each person takes. For the most recent data available, Jul. 4, 37 percent of Baltimore City residents stayed home – more than any other jurisdiction. Queen Anne’s County residents stayed home the least, at 24 percent.

Officials are working within isolated vacuums of information, said Kelly, and the dashboard will help by providing a centralized source of the most real-time information.

“We want to try and provide information that can help people make more informed decisions. And we’ll kind of see what we able to share over time, but I think the more people are operating from real facts and real data the more successful we’re all going to be as we try to navigate our world through the pandemic,” Kelly said.

Up to three people worked on creating the dashboard using Tableau, an interactive data visualization software, and data from many sources, including publicly available information from the Department of Transportation and the Department of Labor.

When asked whether he had concerns that the data would remain accurate in an era where COVID-19 data has been falsified or misleading, Kelly said the organization does not share data if staffers have doubts about its accuracy.

Kelly said his main concern was the fact that data cannot be provided immediately because it takes some time to process before it can be placed on the dashboard.

 

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