Michigan residents soon will be able to search the number of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths by race, ethnicity, age and gender as University of Michigan experts expand the capabilities of the statewide coronavirus MI Safe Start dashboard.

They are planning to also include vaccination rates within weeks.

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“Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we saw important disparities in the number of cases and deaths among certain populations,” said project leader Marisa Eisenberg, associate professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health, and of complex systems and mathematics in LSA.

“We hope this dashboard will help identify trends early and allow our community members to see what’s happening in their own regions,” she said. “It is important for Michigan residents to see how different groups are being affected by the pandemic so as a community we can help support those who need it the most.”

The information will be available for the eight regions defined by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission: Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Saginaw, Lansing, Traverse City, Jackson and the Upper Peninsula. To ensure no individual person is identifiable, more localized data will not be publicly available, the developers said.

U-M researchers from the schools of Public Health and Information have been working closely with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to develop and update the MI Safe Start Map, which tracks and displays the current COVID-19 risk level of Michigan regions and counties.

The dashboard serves two main purposes: to help public health officials make informed decisions regarding the pandemic, and to inform the public about the information being used to determine such public health measures.

“In addition to illustrating a more nuanced view of COVID-19 spread and severity trends in each MERC region, this case and death disparity data provides additional context for the department’s ongoing public health mitigation efforts, including equitable testing, contact tracing and vaccination strategies,” said Sarah Lyon-Callo, director of the MDHHS Bureau of Epidemiology and Population Health.

The update comes in part in response to a request by MDHHS and the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities, created by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year. Financial support for the program comes in part from Johns Hopkins University through the Covid-19 Modeling Accelerator, a collaboration with multiple partners led by the Society for Medical Decision Making and the MDHHS.

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