Ignacio Handal

The Professionals Cohort (Alabama)

We are working to complete our profiles for the more than 500 nominees submitted during the month of February. If you’d like to add to this profile, please email us at: Contact@Data-Usa.org

Ignacio Handal (Alabama)

“I realized in early February of last year before there was a single US case of COVID that this would turn into a global pandemic. As a microbiologist having studied viruses in college and having done viral vector clinical research I knew that I had to get the word out,” Ignacio said.

“I used Facebook to share peer-reviewed articles and hard factual data with my community. I noticed over time that the disinformation was as strong and ubiquitous as the real information which only fortified my intrigue and cause of getting the facts out about this disease. I hope I have helped save lives and I know my wife and I have distributed thousands of masks over this last year in the spirit of community and the common good. I am a data scientist at heart and I always follow the science.”

A few words from those who nominated Ignacio:

Ignacio aka Iggy has posted religiously accurate peer reviewed information about corona virus since last February. he was one of the first to do so before anybody even really knew about Corona virus. Ignacio is a microbiologist by training and according to GlobalData.com has done more clinical research than 99.23% of all clinical researchers globally. Ignacio had diligently posted great articles to keep his community informed. many scrutinized his postings early on in January and February of last year but then it soon became clear that Corona was a real thing. He had been unrelenting helping inform his community.

Click here to see Ignacio’s Facebook page.

Dr. Bertha Hidalgo

The Specialists Cohort (Alabama)

Dr. Bertha Hidalgo (Alabama)

We are working to complete our profiles for the more than 500 nominees submitted during the month of February. If you’d like to add to this profile, please email us at: Contact@Data-Usa.org

Not one to shy away from correcting misinformation, Dr. Bertha Hidalgo has spent the last year combatting internet campaigns using misleading or false data about the effectiveness of lockdowns, masks, and vaccines.

Dr. Hidalgo, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at in Department of Epidemiology at the University of Alabama, uses Instagram, Twitter and a bit of traditional media here and there to ensure that the public has the right information, right when they need it.

Dr. Hidalgo creates simple graphics on topics from proper mask fitting to symptoms of long-haul COVID-19. She leverages the available resources around her to supplement her work, including resources from one of our other nominees, David Marconnet.

“He’s definitely provided a significant service to the state, but also a great resource that many who are working on COVID-related issues in the state can reference and use in our communication,” said Bertha Hidalgo, who has regularly shared BamaTracker updates on her social media. 

Her reach and success with communicating outside of academic (while still serving as a leader within it) helped her secure a $300,000 grant from Research Goes Red in November.

The two-year grant is aimed at increasing education and awareness in women about cardiovascular disease and stroke….and enhance the messaging about these health issues, through a public-facing awareness campaign aimed at millennial and underrepresented women to target cardiovascular disease prevention early on.

“Millennial women should care about cardiovascular health, and developing healthy lifestyles early on can make a big difference,” Hidalgo said. “We are interested in understanding what information women will be most receptive to in order to change behaviors. The end goal is helping women become more heart-aware and heart-healthy.” 

University of Alabama News, Nov. 4, 2020

A few words from those who submitted Dr. Hidalgo:

“Dr. Hidalgo has been using her social media platform (where she has 1000s of followers) to disseminate covid data and studies to lay people. She uses easy to read infographs and is everyone I knows “go-to” for evidence based covid information. Her posts are informed by the questions her followers ask.”

Click here to visit Dr. Hidalgo’s Twitter page
Click here to see Dr. Hidalgo’s Instagram

David Marconnet

Professionals Group (Alabama)

David Marconnet (Alabama)

David Marconnet started Bama Tracker as a side project to help Alabama citizens better understand the COVID-19 data coming from the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH).

Today, the site provides the most comprehensive view of COVID-19 data for the state of Alabama.

With a background in graphic and web design, David took the mess provided by the state and turned it into a data empire — one he plans to continue to build on and expand long “after” COVID-19.

BamaTracker.com has been visited by more than 1.5 million people since March 2020, and has been used by government leaders, medical professionals, teachers and many others as a source for current data and trends on COVID-19 in Alabama.

“I never imagined the impact it would have on so many people and am honored to have been able to build the site and have it become such a valuable resource,” said Marconnet.

Marconnet said one of his goals for Bama Tracker was to present the data in a way that any person could understand, so that they could better follow the course of the pandemic.

Another goal, Marconnet said, was to present the data from an apolitical viewpoint, though he quickly found out how even tweeting “Have a good weekend and wear a mask” became politically charged during the pandemic.

A recent article in the Redstone Rocket praised David’s efforts, noting:

Marconnet launched the third iteration of the website in January – with expanded data about COVID-19 vaccine efforts. He said that with the new website, “it has been an exercise in finding out what the health department cares about, what the hospitals care about, what people care about.”

The Redstone Rocket
Screenshot of http://www.BamaTracker.com

A few comments from those who nominated David:

“This resource has been my go-to for information on the pandemic in Alabama since its inception. I also deeply appreciate how David holds ADPH accountable when data is unclear, delayed, or potentially misleading.”

“From the start of the pandemic, David sought to capture state level data and feed it into visuals and models that are more readily understood by the public. His level of transparency in data reporting is outstanding. He quickly became the go-to source for individuals, local media, and scientists within the state. “

Spread the word:

@davidmarconnet, creator of @BamaTracker, is a #COVID19 #DataHero worthy of all the praise, and a finalist for the COVID-19 #DataHeroAwards. See all nominees at: DataHeroAwards.org. Check out his data resources at: http://www.BamaTracker.com

Dr. Ellen Eaton

The Specialists Group (Alabama)

Dr. Ellen Eaton is an Infectious Diseases Physician with a Masters in Public Health at the University of Alabama.

Dr. Ellen Eaton (Alabama)

In March 2020, Dr. Eaton began a Facebook page, “Dr. Ellen Eaton Coronavirus Updates,” to combat misinformation she noticed was being shared by friends and family on social media.

“I knew that Alabama would be disproportionately affected by COVID due to low public health access, literacy, and other social determinants of health,” said Dr. Eaton.

“So, I committed my free time to improving public health through data-driven COVID messaging initially targeted to friends, family, friends of friends in the Deep South.”

Dr. Eaton now has more than 12,800 followers on Facebook, 32,497 weekly reaches, and 25,313 weekly engagements with viewers from across the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Syria, and India, she said.

“The most important aspect of my page is clear, consistent, evidence-based clinical and policy updates tailored to a lay audience with little to no medical background (like my hometown of Dothan, Alabama).”

A few comments from those who nominated Dr. Eaton:

“Dr. Eaton has done an exceptional job keeping people updated and informed about COVID-19, and sorting through all the misinformation online. Her posts have been one of the only sources I’ve trusted throughout this pandemic. (And she’s also treating patients at UAB!) She’s a data hero and a healthcare hero too!”

Click here to see Dr. Ellen Eaton’s Facebook page.

Click here to follow Dr. Ellen Eaton’s Twitter page.