Pima County, Arizona’s second-largest population center, has worked diligently to arrest the spread of COVID-19. Find out how they used technology to empower residents and local employers with better data on the pandemic.
The Pima County Health Department has worked tirelessly since early 2020 to prepare for and then contain the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of its holistic approach to managing the health emergency and its economic impacts, the county government has fully embraced technology as a tool to maximize the impact of work. A vital element of this strategy has been to gather and communicate data on the disease’s spread in local communities.
One of the difficult things about gathering a lot of public health data is communicating that information effectively. You want to make it easy for people and businesses to access and understand up-to-date information to make informed decisions about exposure risk to COVID-19. Technology offers an effective way to address those concerns.
— Jonnell Sanciangco, Senior GIS Analyst, Maximus Public Health
Knowing that a key priority would be getting residents, public health decision-makers, and local employers the best information possible, the Health Department worked with Maximus to create a COVID-19 dashboard – which has now gone live. The dashboard includes a comprehensive mapping tool indicating the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths by zip code, census tract, jurisdiction, and school district. The data is also grouped by demographics and date. The public can select specific areas and population groups and see the pandemic’s trends and hotspots.
The dashboard provides a central location for local health authorities to make locally informed announcements and provide updated health recommendations. The public can view an updated and comprehensive progress report on the pandemic’s impact.
“From the beginning, our goal was to empower the residents of Pima County and Tucson with up-to-date information about COVID-19 and offer recommendations to public health authorities in response to local trends in the data. The Pima County COVID-19 Dashboard is an excellent tool that illustrates conditions on the ground and helps people understand and manage health risks during the pandemic.”
— Dr. Andrew Sommers, Vice President and Executive Director, Maximus Public Health
Maximus has also worked closely with County and Arizona State public health authorities to expand contact tracing capacity. Using COVID-19 testing, technology, and data, and contact tracing, Pima County and Arizona have saved lives and protected the local economy from the worst of the pandemic’s impacts.
Transparency builds trust – which will be even more critical when the vaccines arrive
Ultimately, people will have to make personal decisions for themselves and their families. Providing relevant and easily understandable data is just the first step toward building trust and cutting through the noise, politicization, and rumors surrounding the pandemic. When governors and public health leaders ask people to limit gatherings over the holidays or encourage patience with vaccine distribution this spring, a track record for transparency and clear communication will be a significant asset.