Yesterday I posted about Lack of Imagination over at Epsilon Theory. In that piece Rusty references some fantastic public health data published by NYC Health. They have a number of datasets available, the most interesting/useful one currently being influenza-like admissions to NYC emergency rooms.
What's clear in the data is that there's an abnormal spike in March that doesn't exist in any prior year, even in 2018, which appears to have been a particularly bad flu season.
We see the same trend if we change the Syndrome filter to Respiratory, which presumably would be the admission reason listed for people with later-stage COVID19 respiratory issues.
This level of transparency into the health care system is incredibly useful at a time like this. The official coronavirus confirmed case numbers are extremely low, due primarily to the fact that almost no testing has taken place up to this point (though that will likely change this week). These datasets provide a useful proxy for what's actually happening in hospitals, despite what the lagging testing data says.
The NYC syndromic dataset query tool can be accessed here. To get the graph/filter view, click on one of the cells when the page loads.
I'm inspired that the NYC government collects and publishes this data. Other cities should follow their lead and provide this level of transparency. It gives local news organization and individuals a near real-time view of hospital capacity, which is especially important in the midst of a public health crisis, where hospital capacity is one of the key metrics we have to manage to effectively contain and treat the virus.