18 July, 2021

Blood on their hands

icon Covid-19,delta variant,disinformation
Ron DeSantis ignoring common sense COVID safety measures results in more Florida deaths

COVID is an equal opportunity killer. It doesn't care who you voted for, or even if you voted at all.

Death isn't a political issue. Should elected officials make health policy decisions based on politics even if it kills the people who elected them?

Should Florida Governor DeSantis raise money by mocking health. experts and sell anti-COVID safety t-shirts when Florida has 45,449 cases? DeSantis got a Johnson & Johnson shot but promotes mistrust of scientific authorities and guidance.

"DeSantis has been antagonistic toward public health restrictions throughout the pandemic, going so far as to issue an executive order in March and signing a law in May banning “vaccine passports,” including requirements from businesses that patrons be vaccinated." - VICE

COVID-19 cases soar in Florida as DeSantis ignores the crisis

"As Florida faces one the highest rates of new coronavirus cases in the country, a more transmissible variant and millions of eligible Floridians have yet to be vaccinated, Gov. Ron DeSantis has found a way to make a buck from distrust in science and masks. His campaign on Monday dropped a new line of merchandise, including drink koozies and T-shirts emblazoned with “Don’t Fauci my Florida,” “How the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?”.

Perhaps the slogan “Florida has lost more than 38,000 people to COVID-19” or “Coronavirus cases have nearly doubled in the past weeks in South Florida” were taken — or wouldn’t sell any T-shirts." - Miami Herald

CoronaVirus data visualization

Sunlight may the best disinfectant, but data visualization is pretty good too.

Words can be twisted, but facts are harder to manipulate - especially when it is about hospitalizations and deaths. Data visualization makes it easier to understand the facts and overcomes the challenges of:
- People are busy and have little time to wade through lots of data
- Information has to localized and relevant to people based on where they live
- Data has a short shelf life. It has to be kept current to be useful.
A realtime, interactive map with dashboard is data visualization at its finest. It presents the latest data in an interactive form that is easy to understand at a glance. And it allows the reader to easily dig in for details about the area they are interested in. A well designed dashboard also offers background information and links to more resources.

Timely COVID-19 data

The John Hopkins CoronaVirus Resource Center collects and freely shares the number of cases and deaths for every county in America. They provide a national map of COVID-19 cases, hospitalization and deaths. DemLabs used a data feed from John Hopkins to create a simplified dashboard for the COVID-19 crisis in Florida that is simpler to understand. Same data, but just presented differently using the ArcGIS Online Dashboard app.

COVID deaths and cases data collected and shared by John Hopkins University
DeSantis puts the lives of Floridans at risk by blocking anti-COVID measures

Florida COVID-19 pandemic

‘A pandemic of the unvaccinated’: Florida is accounting for 1-in-5 of nation’s COVID-19 cases. About 54% of Floridians 12 years and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to CDC data. The number of new people getting vaccinated per week has decreased by about two-thirds when comparing this week’s numbers to 10 weeks ago, according to the state overview.

Florida accounted for 21.4% of the nation’s 184,145 new COVID-19 cases over the past seven days, according to the White House’s latest report released Thursday. The rise in cases parallels a rise in COVID hospitalizations. Across Florida, 3,652 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, more than double the number hospitalized with COVID-19 only a month ago, according to the report." - Orlando Sentinel

"Houston we have a problem"

"For some Texans who lost loved ones to the coronavirus, lifting the mask mandate is a “slap in the face”. One woman whose husband died said Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to end the mask mandate makes the convenience of not wearing a mask seem more important than loss of life."

Abbott’s Tuesday declaration that it was time to “open Texas” has been decried by local officials and health experts, who say it’s too soon to become lax with coronavirus restrictions, as just 7% of the state’s residents have been fully inoculated against the virus. President Joe Biden likened the decision to “Neanderthal thinking,” and an official with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it’s not the time to loosen precautions." - Texas Tribune

It is simple to create a map and dashboard for different areas, once the basic design and datasource is in place. DemLabs created a second dashboard about the COVID-19 crisis in Texas and the consequences of Governor Abbott's decision to loosen COVID-19 safety measures.

Greg Abbott blocks COVID-19 safety precautions as the pandemic rages in Texas

Playing politics with lives

"A wave of opposition to Covid vaccines has risen within the Republican Party, as conservative news outlets produce a steady diet of misinformation about vaccines and some G.O.P. lawmakers invite anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists to testify in statehouses and Congress.

Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia urged Americans to “just say no” to the vaccine, using Nazi-era imagery to criticize the Biden administration’s effort to reach unvaccinated people. “People have a choice, they don’t need your medical brown shirts showing up at their door ordering vaccinations,” she tweeted. “You can’t force people to be part of the human experiment.”

The Kaiser Family Foundation found a growing vaccination divide between Republican and Democratic areas, with nearly 47 percent of people in counties won by President Biden fully vaccinated, compared with 35 percent of people in Trump counties. In a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, 47 percent of Republicans said they weren’t likely to get vaccinated, compared with just 6 percent of Democrats." - NY Times

Data as a tool for advocacy

Partisan news channels and disinformation make it harder to change public opinion. People are trapped in information silos and confirmation bias strengthens their current beliefs. How do you get the facts to people with different viewpoints? Cartoons, GIFs and video clips are engaging but most likely to be read by people who already agree with that point of view.

Simple, engaging infographics with useful information and are easy to share have a better chance of reaching people with different viewpoints. They provide information which is relevant to them and stays current with new data. Tools such as ArcGIS Online Dashboards make it possible to quickly design such infographics.

TakeAway: The truth will set you free. But it helps if you can make it easier to see with an interactive map. Get pro bono mapping help with projects about healthcare, social justice and voting rights here.


COVID-19 editorial cartoons

DeSantis ignores expert medical advice as COVID spreads in Florida
Republicans block path to COVID immunity
DeSantis denies expert advice as COVID-19 ravages Florida and Texas
FOX News spreads COVID-19 disinformation. A pox on your house, Fox News, disinformation, pandemic, anti-vaccines, coronavirus, covid-19, delta variant, anti-vaxxer.
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