DOH to include hospital data; COVID Action Data Updates and More

Article by both the Wolf and the Badger

When we first launched this website, we knew hospitalization data would be a critical data element that had to be included. We include hospitalization data on the home page of the dashboard, and on the “Health and Hospitals” page.

Since then, hospital data has become a controversial subject.

When Rebekah worked as the COVID-19 data and surveillance manager at the Department of Health, she lobbied DOH for the inclusion of hospital reporting data on public-facing data products, like the DOH dashboard she built and the data portal that provided tabular data to the public. Hospital data was already provided by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) which monitors hospital capacity across the state for about 300 hospitals.

The AHCA data was always included during hurricane planning and response as a critical source of information, and epidemiologists across the world said hospital capacity was one of the most important indicators of COVID activity and the health system’s ability to adsorb another large influx of cases.

Not two full weeks after Florida COVID Action launched, the Governor decided to personally intervene in how hospital data was being reported.

Now, DOH has announced that it will be adding some hospital data to its “publicly available data on cases.”

Bloomberg news reported yesterday:

Florida will start reporting current Covid-19 hospitalization for the first time in the “next few days,” potentially adding an important new data set as the state faces a dramatic resurgence of the virus.

In an emailed response to questions, Florida Department of Health spokesman Alberto Moscoso said the information will be published alongside other publicly available data on cases.

Florida has been criticized for not publishing the data sooner. Its daily reports include a cumulative total of Covid-19 related hospitalizations, but not the number of coronavirus patients admitted currently in the state’s health-care system.

Read the article here.

Here’s the problem with that: DOH doesn’t have that data.

The data you see on the state’s and on the Florida COVID Action dashboard is the number of total hospitalized COVID-19 persons to date. It is not an active count. DOH may not find out that a person has been hospitalized (or even that they died) until months later. And the ICU data by AHCA is a count of the number of beds available — not how many are being occupied by COVID patients.

Florida does not (and has never) tracked the number of currently hospitalized COVID-19 patients. That’s because many people don’t even get tested until they’re so sick that they require hospitalization, so there’s no way to know how many are hospitalized at any given time. If forced to report this data as described by Moscoso, the number will likely be incredibly low (which is what I imagine the state wants).

We’ll keep an eye for this change, and update you with any information we get.

Still, we’re glad to see DOH adding a selection of hospital data, and we’ll remain optimistic that it will be reported fairly and accurately.

There are still a number of items that have yet to be addressed by DOH that we’d like to see added. Those include:

  1. Testing, cases and deaths in county/local jails
  2. Testing and cases in state prisons (only deaths are currently reported)
  3. Probable cases and deaths (as recommended by the CDC)
  4. Recovery data (as recommended by the CDC)
  5. Demographic data about persons tested (was provided and updated daily until Rebekah left in May)
  6. Testing and deaths by zip code (by day) for all resident types (currently only resident cases (cumulative) are provided)
  7. Statistics and data on contact tracing


Important data notes:

  1. DOH switched how it runs updates for its reports/data last week.

Since March 13, each day’s case data (both the PDF and AGO APIs) were updated from data current as of 8 AM that morning. That meant the report actually included any cases, deaths, tests, etc., that came in between 8 AM yesterday and 8 AM today.

Now, DOH is pulling/updating data based on a 24-hour calendar date. So today’s report is the full report for yesterday only, and doesn’t include any data from today (June 30); So tomorrow’s report will only include cases/tests/etc from today (July 1).

It could be reasonably argued that case data should have been reported this way from the beginning. I’d agree that it makes the most sense to report by calendar date. That the change came right smack in the middle of the largest spike in cases to date is a little suspicious, though.

2. Starting yesterday (June 30), DOH split the giant, state-wide case line PDF file on the main Florida COVID website into two different files.

There is now a summary file that includes testing statistics, the number of cases by Florida cities, and the labs processing results. The line list of cases is now in a separate PDF report.

Data updates:

Long-term care facility (LTCF) cases and deaths tables have been updated
Note: DOH currently only publishes the provider name and county. This makes it difficult for us to put this data on a map, as there are multiple facilities with the same name in a single county. We are working to make sure we’re attributing the right case data to the correct facility, and will add it to the map once we’ve done that.
Also, the cases data and the deaths data are provided in two separate files, and without unique ID’s for each facility, we can’t compare cases and deaths for most facilities.

Daily county data from DOH for May 1- July 1
Visit the Data Library to see all our historical data. Click here to download the county data for May 1 – July 1 (downloads as an excel workbook).

Going live later this week: Testing by number of people tested, total tests (labs) processed, and cases by day, based on daily DOH data.

Please visit our Data Library for historical data and links to APIs or tables, and check out our Open Data Hub (working on cleaning this up a bit) for AGO web layers.


%d bloggers like this: