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Virginia’s new COVID dashboard offers ‘clearer view’ of racial and ethnic disparities

Virginia’s new COVID dashboard offers ‘clearer view’ of racial and ethnic disparities

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John Lamberta administered a COVID-19 vaccine in early February during a clinic for older people and Black and Latino communities in Richmond.

The Virginia Department of Health is launching a COVID-19 dashboard that tracks disparities among racial and ethnic communities.

Called the “Health Equity Dashboard,” the new tool compares COVID cases, hospitalization, death and vaccination rates among Virginians in the white, Black, Latinos, and Asian or Pacific Islander communities.

Users can look at statewide data or toggle with certain localities. They also can look at trends for the current month or over the past six months.

“This enhancement to the dashboards is another step in VDH’s continued efforts to provide timely and accurate information to the public about COVID-19′s impact on different communities,” said a department press release.

Justin Crow, director of VDH’s division of social epidemiology, said the data helps the department better target their outreach to communities. The department hopes the information will also empower the public.

“We want to make sure local leaders are aware of (COVID-19 trends) in their districts, and to give communities the ability to advocate for themselves,” Crow wrote in an email to The Pilot.

Previously, the public could see racial trends in COVID data on a tab labeled “Demographics” that provided information based on age group and sex. The new dashboard offers a consolidated, “clearer view” of differences along the lines of race and ethnicity in particular, according to the department.

The dashboard’s data for this month shows Blacks and Latinos in Virginia are being hospitalized because of COVID-19 at almost two times the rate of white Virginians. COVID-19 deaths in the commonwealth are highest among Black people. Vaccine rates are highest among Asians or Pacific Islanders, followed by Latinos.

At the same time, deaths, hospitalizations and cases have decreased for the state’s Black, Latino, and Asian or Pacific Islander population since August while vaccination rates have either risen or held steady, “indicating an improving situation in both areas,” the department said.

Past updates to VDH’s COVID dashboards have looked at other data, such as hospitalizations among children. That database was briefly taken down in October before resolving an issue with underreporting. That database is back.

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Dr. William A. Petri, an immunologist at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, answers this week’s questions from readers on COVID-19. Dr. Petri will keep dishing on COVID-19 and answering your questions each week in The Daily Progress for as long as you have questions. Send them to Editor Lynne Anderson at: vanderson@dailyprogress.com, and she will forward them to Dr. Petri.

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