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YSPH, Washington Post Form Partnership to Investigate Coronavirus

April 27, 2020

The Washington Post and the Yale School of Public Health have formed a partnership—the Covid Counting Consortium (3C)—to research and report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Journalists, engineers and data scientists from The Post will collaborate with a group of researchers led by Associate Professor Daniel Weinberger from the school’s Yale’s Public Health Modeling Unit to analyze data from a variety of sources. Experts from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Roskilde University and Aledade, a health care technology company, round out the research team.

The Post published the first story to come out of this collaboration— U.S. deaths soared in early weeks of pandemic, far exceeding number attributed to covid-19— today (April 27) looking at the overall death rates in seven states with a high number of COVID-19 fatalities and also an unusually high rate of death due to diseases that present similarly, like influenza and pneumonia.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with The Washington Post to help bring rigorous quantitative analysis to the complicated task of interpreting complex public health data,” said Weinberger.

Among the group’s initial tasks will be investigating how revised case and death totals could change our understanding of the virus. The consortium will use data modeling to examine gaps in officially reported cases and those likely coded as other diseases. The data will help reporters frame stories about COVID-19 and will be visualized in graphics and other images to help readers better understand the virus’ impact.

“The United States leads the world in coronavirus diagnoses and casualties with the death toll surpassing 50,000 in recent days. Data from U.S. health systems is beginning to unspool the full story of the coronavirus’ impact and we hope this partnership can shed more light on the true extent of the virus’ effect,” said Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, managing editor for digital strategy at The Washington Post. “This work will complement The Post’s narrative storytelling, which continues to seek ways to spotlight survivors and victims of a virus that has permeated American life to a depth not experienced in generations.”

Weinberger said that the partnership is expected to include weekly stories for the next month or two. Weinberger and colleagues have a standing weekly call with The Post’s editors, writers, and their data team to discuss the project and future directions. In addition to Weinberger, other researchers at the Yale School of Public health involved in the project include researchers Ted Cohen, Virginia Pitzer, Forrest Crawford, Marcus Russi and Anne Watkins.

Legacy.com has also agreed to provide obituary data for reporting purposes.

Submitted by Colin Poitras on April 27, 2020