“I have a demonstrated record of collaborative research, scholarly publication, teaching and advising, and participation in public health organizations and professional associations” Jason writes on his website.
Jason built a reputation in Florida as an honest, transparent and vigilant reporter of data and trends through his website and Twitter feed. Jason makes all of his data available to the public for free, and has invested countless hours in keeping Florida honest, never deterred by anti-mask, anti-vaccines and pro-government harassment. His commitment to data access, transparency and data visualization may be unmatched in the state of Florida.
A few words from those who nominated Jason:
“Dr. Salemi is consistent, transparent, dependable, creative, and trustworthy.”
“Non partisan data. Responsive to requests. The best in the state. Doing it for nothing but to inform.”
“With all the misinformation out there and cover-ups in our state and by our governor, Florida is lucky to have so many data heroes like Jason and Rebekah out there. They give us the truth when the government won’t!”
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
“I have always loved spreadsheets and tracking data in order to gain insights into complicated phenomena, so when the pandemic started I began transcribing and charting Arizona Department of Health Services Covid-19 data in order to get a better sense of the progression of the pandemic in Arizona, and to keep a record of the data and how it changed over time (the ADHS data dashboard doesn’t have an option to download data). Then I started sharing my charts, and a link to a Google Sheet with the data, on the Tucson Coronavirus Facebook group and on Twitter, figuring as long as I was doing this work for my own curiosity I might as well share it in case anyone else was interested. My overall goal in all this has been to really “see” the pandemic and try and get a sense of how it works.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Philip Nelson has collected data and informed South Carolinians about the virus in their state.
In March 2020, Nelson started a simple spreadsheet to collect daily data, but then quickly realized that he could use his computer science background to automate his work and expand the resources he provided.
Starting off, he didn’t know much about working with data or using code, but over time that changed.
He wrote scripts and learned to use data tools and libraries to help visualize the data, and then he started posting the information to his Twitter.
Over several months he learned how to use programming to pull large amounts of data from SC DHEC, visualize it, and then post it to twitter all within seconds of the data going live.
His work has garnered attention from state legislators. local media, and public health researchers.
“I care about accurately presenting the data in an accessible manner, and I want everyone to have access to data,” Nelson said. “Because DHEC doesn’t accessibly provide downloadable case history for the state and its counties, I provide CSVs and graphs of this data on my website.”
Philip has worked hard and learned many things in order to become a reliable source for South Carolina COVID19 data.
A few words from those who nominated Philip:
“As an investigative reporter his datasets have provided me leads on stories I wasn’t even thinking about, particularly the scale of COVID outbreak in South Carolina prisons. His willingness to push through and find new ways of analyzing data particularly in a rural southern state is unlike anything else I’ve seen.”
“I’m a retired biostatistician. When the pandemic hit, I started tracking SCDHEC data on my own. As soon as I found Philip’s data tracking, I quit doing my own. Philip posts summaries, points out trends, and presents it all in clear graphics, usually within minutes of SCDHEC’s daily data release. He points out inconsistencies in the official data, and does a better job than SCDHEC explaining the quirks in data collection. He does all this on his own time, while a full-time student at Winthrop. He has a knack for digging into data and turning it into user-friendly graphics, and the drive to get through the many technical issues of automating the process. He has a bright future ahead.”
Hearing about the virus in China late in 2019, Avi sought out data tables and feeds but came up with none. The primary sources for developments and reporting COVID-19 were scattered across the internet, written in Mandarin, Korean and Japanese – languages Avi doesn’t speak.
So he began collecting as much data as he could, and by January 2020, he had one of the first sites tracking the virus worldwide.
His work earned him a 2020 Webby Award, presented to him Dr. Anthony Fauci for his work tracking COVID-19.
“As we collectively navigate the severe impact of COVID-19, including the difficult, but critical calls for nationwide social distancing, the Internet has become the lifeblood of people looking for accurate information about the novel coronavirus and the necessary steps to combat it. Since launching the site on December 29th, Schiffmann’s tracking tool has been an invaluable resource that sounded the alarm on the virus and its spread, notably calling attention to its severity long before many global officials. At a time when the spread of misinformation can be so detrimental to our efforts, the site has provided over 100 million visitors with accurate real-time data.”
Today, Avi runs his site between classes, applying to college, and homework.
He works with UNESCO, the European Union, and is now a youth ambassador to the United Nations.
He’s not interested in working on teleporting, by the way. He just wants to create revolutionary technology to recreate the internet, and work on cybernetics for creating sustainable technologies to combat the impacts of climate change. Or he’ll become a cottage cheese farmer. “Who knows,” he said.
A few comments from those who nominated Avi:
“He was just 17 years old & knew the pandemic was coming in November 2019. Look at what he did & think of how far he can go. He’s amazing.”
Eileen White resigned from her position as the sole epidemiologist in the newly-formed Fishers, Indiana health department after the mayor began interfering with how data was being represented to the public.
“It became clear that no matter what I did to help make data more transparent for my community, I simply could not honestly communicate about the data when working in local public health in Indiana, amidst a huge amount of political pressure.”
“It went very public very quickly and was incredibly uncomfortable,” Eileen said.
Eileen became a reluctant, though much-needed voice for reason and transparency, challenging the misleading information being put out by her local officials, especially when that misleading data related to schools and school safety during COVID-19.
“We developed community metrics to help guide our community health around risk and school closings and openings,” she explained. “The metrics said we were in one stage, and the mayor decided that we were in another and told the schools to open fully when that’s not what the metrics indicated.”
So she left a health department she had uprooted her life to assist.
She created “Public Health Is Your Job, Too” as both a website and Facebook resource for those looking to better understand COVID-19 in her state, and to advocate for science communication and public health.
She received threats. Her neighbors shunned her. Several times, she’d go outside and find her car doors left opened or ajar.
In the end, she had to move.
Eileen was by no means a public figure before she left the health department – she averaged about one tweet a month before she quit in protest of the local government’s political interference in science and medicine. After she resigned, she started a Facebook page to share public health data with the public.
Eileen wanted to adhere to the guidelines on reopening schools, but the mayor didn’t. She wanted communication about the risk of schools to be clear, but the mayor didn’t. And when push came to shove, her own health department wouldn’t back her up against the political interests trying to minimize the impact their policy decisions would cause.
“There are many of us that have felt powerless, silenced. The data may indicate one thing. The policy decisions that are made at the top by the politicians and even some of the directors do not follow data,” Eileen remembers.
“We have to be careful to say what we know and don’t know and why. What we know about kids is still under investigation, everything so far indicates they spread at least as much as adults,” she wrote.
Indeed, Mayor Scott Fadness made unilateral changes to the policies regarding reopening school, reminding the health department during one public meeting that it wasn’t up to the health department when and how schools opened.
“I did my best to hold the local and state health departments accountable for decision making and poor data interpretation , and held our state accountable for the absolute gutting of public health funding and investment in Indiana,” she said.”
Still somewhat shaken from the near-constant assault of her work and her personal life, led by anti-maskers, anti-lockdowners and “open schools NOW” pushers, Eileen looks forward to what’s next for her, even if it isn’t where she expected life to take her.
“It’s been a very long year, but I take heart that my work in data and public health education have informed Fishers, Indianapolis and surrounding areas on how to look at the information they are being given, how to ask questions, and how to challenge a political narrative that is very clearly without real, solid, vetted data behind it.”
Eileen graciously requested not to be considered a finalist, noting on her Facebook page: “I have been a strong advocate for science, data and my community, but I have gone nowhere near the levels of work of my co-nominees. These amazing folks are doing incredible work, and I hope that their careers are improved with this honor and well-deserved attention.”
Eileen’s commitment to science education under immense pressure and even threats exemplifies everything this awards program is about. Still somewhat uncomfortable with her new-founded celebrity and trying to work her way through the emotional toll of her experiences, Eileen struggles to be brave. Yet, those who do not struggle to be brave are not nearly as heroic as those who must fight each day to find it within themselves to go on.
Even though Eileen may not (yet) be a national figure like some of other nominees, she shares the stage with equal credibility, transparency, advocacy, and grit as everyone else.
Our program was designed not to give praise to those who already have the lectern, but to recognize those whose work within their communities, states or regions across the US and Canada profoundly changed conversations, challenged misinformation, and who paid a price in doing so.
Andrew has worked to make COVID data consistently and transparently available to the public and local officials.
In addition to the public facing work, Andrew assists the state with data cleaning and processing, and he response to request for assistance from data users, making the state’s data more widely available.
A few words from those who nominated Andrew:
“Andrew worked quickly in March to establish one of the first state-level COVID dashboards when the first Louisiana case was reported, publishing one up in time to report Louisiana’s first death. Since then he has continuously worked to improve data quality and increase transparency, advocating to make high-quality data easily downloadable. Now that the vaccine rollout has begun, Andrew has stepped up on the team tasked with cleaning, enriching, validating, and reporting vaccination data as well to ensure these data are also accurately and transparently shared with the public.”
“Throughout the pandemic Andrew has worked directly with local officials, answering questions and helping to integrate state data in to their local informational products. He has also taken time to answer citizen questions regarding the dashboard, ensuring the people of Louisiana understand the data being presented.”
If the true measure of a person’s character can be derived from how they treat their inferiors, then Dr. Anne Zink would score aces.
Members of her team have publicly praised her expertise, humility, and empathy.
“She encourages Alaskans to take care of each other, and to check in on neighbors who may need a helping hand,” wrote Sarah Erkmann Ward, an Anchorage communications consultant who worked with Dr. Zink during the crisis.
“Dr. Anne Zink from Alaska is a total badass and has been keeping us up to date with accurate data since early March 2020”
“Using a data driven approach, she has wonderfully informed Alaskans about how actions have consequences in the covid crisis (both positive and negative) She has a great humility, but is so deserving of awards! “
Eizabeth Shulok started tracking COVID-19 in California in May 2020.
Using her expertise as a data scientist, she built her own website to track, analyze and visualize data in San Diego County.
“The data tells the story; I just paint the picture,” said Shulok.
Elizabeth works with the press to produce accurate data visualizations, including a recent project to map the CDC schools guidance by zip code in her state.
Elizabeth wrestled with the pushback she received when she started reporting on cases in K-12 schools, finding that many in San Diego county (and online) would harass, threaten and berate experts who cautioned about what was known and what was speculation about kids, teachers and school staff.
“The violence coming from some of the pandemic deniers has made me hesitant to post openly about COVID-19,” Elizabeth said.
Despite the risk, Elizabeth pressed on, continued to track and report cases (including cases in schools), and challenged early misconceptions and lack of transparency in her area.
“I wasn’t convinced we knew enough about the role children play in the pandemic so I decided to see what the data shows,” said Shulok. “The county provides data on COVID-19, but doesn’t display it in a way to see how transmission varies by age group over time. So I created my own charts to try to get a better picture of what is happening with kids in San Diego County and ended up expanding from there.”
Elizabeth feared for her own safety at times, even going so far as to remove her name from her projects. But seeing activists using her data confront the anti-science crowd online and in the news encouraged her.
“It has shifted my perspective. And seeing them go on air, doing interviews to counter the Reopen Now group’s narrative, and getting bashed online, puts my work into perspective. What I’m doing is fairly neutral and less controversial,” she said.
Elizabeth provides all of the data free to the public with complete transparency of where it comes from, which is almost entirely primary sources.
A few comments from those who nominated Elizabeth:
“Her data analysis has provided insights and views that have illuminated areas of concern, highlighted gaps in tracking and brought into question policies in place.”
“As a concerned parent and data scientist, Liz used her skills to compile an amazing data dashboard, coding to periodically scrape data from publicly available sources in an easy-to-use, centralized format to help better under the role of schools in the coronavirus pandemic. Since we know that asymptomatic spread and a lack of testing are leading to serious undercounts, Liz’s dashboard provides a critical lower bound of confirmed, official cases and other data points that allow for better policy decisions knowing it is the tip of the iceberg.”
Better known as “The Data Guru of Arizona” and “The Count of Phoenix,” Garrett Archer led the pack (or the cauldron?) as a investigative data journalist for ABC 15 News, providing frequent, transparent and accessible data and analysis during COVID-19.
Garrett’s meticulous attention to detail, meaningful analysis, and outgoing personality gained him regional and then national notoriety as an honest and data-driven reporter.
“Garrett loves nothing more than pouring over data to find a deeper understanding for stories of the day and stories that are pertinent to the community,” says his ABC 15 news profile.
Garrett quickly became one of our most frequently submitted nominees, as his work with ABC15 in Phoenix impacted the entire U.S. Southwest, where transparent data and reporting remained scarce throughout the pandemic.
In the vaccine-rollout madness, Garrett keeps people informed of when and how Arizona and its surrounding states change the eligibility requirements:
Despite the emotional and psychological toll that comes with being a journalist assigned to cover COVID-19, Garrett brings levity into the fold as often as he can, using code and data to cheer people up.
A few words from those who nominated Garrett:
“Garrett Archer, Phoenix’s Data Guru from early on in covid has posted daily information, metrics and numbers related to COVID. His tweets have been daily and have posted current and up to date. He also has made a daily tweet showing the Navajo Nation pandemic information and is one of the few outside of the reservation.”
“Garrett has dedicated his work to sifting through AZ’s COVID data, and giving straightforward analysis and showing us trends from throughout the pandemic! I see his data as more helpful and inclusive of the pandemic, in comparison to the state’s DHS dashboard. In a world with numbers and info being flung everywhere, Garrett continues to be a warrior across all fronts, with the addition of vaccine updates in his daily drops! I think I can speak for many of the residents of arizona, by saying that his data analysis has highlighted Arizona’s successes and failings during these hard times. it’s allowed me to adjust what I’m doing in order to keep people safe.”