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Five data tools help us understand COVID-19's impact on Waco

By Emily Hunt-Hinojosa

In the wake of COVID-19, everyone wants to know what the data says. Numbers and stories can reveal the facts of a situation and help us to better understand it. Making use of data is a process — first, finding data, then understanding, then guided responses.

The hunt for data and facts is really a quest for truth-finding. At its best, meaningful data can lead us to real awareness of a given situation, which can help governments, health organizations, businesses,nonprofits, and people plan for the days ahead.

Leaders need precise data, accurate data, data that can help us understand for whom COVID-19 is a problem and for whom it is less of a problem. Who is getting sick? Who is dying? Who is losing their jobs? Who isn’t losing their job? Who wears a mask? Who doesn’t? Why in the world not? Where should I put resources? Who is fine? Who is not fine? Why is this happening to us?

Answers to these good questions are not easy to discover. The yearning for data speaks to a larger issue. When we are truly honest, we aren’t quite sure what to do in this current moment; we have never lived through this before. However, our efforts do not have to be just a shot in the dark. We can make informed decisions to the best of our ability.

In addition to, here are five data tracking tools/websites that can enhance our understanding of the effect of COVID-19 on our Waco community.

  • City Health Dashboard COVID Local Risk Index

The COVID Local Risk Index can help us understand where in the community the risk for COVID infection and illness severity may be concentrated. The purpose of this index is to estimate which parts of the community may need the most support as coronavirus cases increase, focusing on neighborhoods as a way of gaining key insight for policy. The estimate of risk is based on socioeconomic and demographic factors as well as underlying COVID-related issues and outcomes in the community. Waco scores a 9 out of 10 for local risk. Data is available for the city and census tracts, as well.

  • COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index

Surgo Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index (CCVI) combines the CDC’s social vulnerability index with additional data for a total of six themes and 34 variables. The CCVI can help us consider what factors are contributing to vulnerability for a given community/neighborhood in McLennan County. Data is available for the county and census tracts.

  • Texas 2036 COVID-19 Tracking Dashboard

Texas 2036 has a dashboard to find out about COVID’s impact across Texas. The focus is mostly on economic and health data, including unemployment filings, and mobility trends. Data is available at the county level.

  • COVID-19 Demographic and Economic Resources.

The Census Bureau has two noteworthy resources: First, the COVID-19 Impact Report available for McLennan County. This report contains a variety of quick facts such as basic demographic information, who has and doesn’t have health insurance, and what percentage of county residents have access to the Internet. Secondly, the Census has created a measure for Community Resilience to estimate how resilient a given community is after experiencing disasters — including pandemics. The Community Resilience Estimates are available for census tracts throughout our county.

  • Waco RoundTable is Prosper Waco’s newly launched Community Data Platform for Waco. Over 100 quantitative indicators have been mapped across various community geographies to highlight pressing issues in our community. To explore COVID-related data, under Topics, click COVID-19, choose an Indicator, and choose a Geography. You can also add to this site by entering data on your organization, business or nonprofit as a profile on Waco RoundTable.

If you have questions about any of these sources or know of other sources we should be considering, contact


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