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  1. Opinion

Pinellas is publicizing coronavirus data. That’s empowering. | Editorial

Allowing the public access to real-time data on coronavirus gives people the opportunity to make more informed decisions.

The state is slowly reopening, and Floridians need real data on coronavirus to make informed decisions. Yet it’s becoming more difficult to rely on data from the state. That’s why Pinellas County’s COVID-19 statistics dashboard is a welcome resource for residents looking for up-to-date information on cases, hospital capacity and testing.

This is an example of local government doing right by its citizens. The dashboard offers information based on zip code, demographics and even cases at long-term care facilities. It also shows daily positive cases in Pinellas County beginning in March, as well as the percentage of hospital beds, Intensive Care Unit beds and ventilators available at Pinellas hospitals in real time. Hillsborough County is making a similar effort.

Giving the general public access to this information empowers people. It allows someone living in downtown St. Petersburg, or in the 33701 zip code, to see that there are 29 positive cases there but 65 in zip code 33772, in Seminole. That is likely partially attributed to the outbreak at the Freedom Square of Seminole long-term care center, which has more than 30 fatalities from COVID-19.

The information also highlights disparities in the data. Are there geographic areas, racial or ethnic groups that are disproportionately affected by coronavirus in Pinellas County? The data shows 74 percent of Pinellas County’s coronavirus cases are in white people, 16 percent are in black people and the other 10 percent are either different races or unknown. By making this information accessible, the county reaffirms this information is important for all.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, Editor of Editorials Tim Nickens, and editorial writers Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill and Jim Verhulst. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.