Is my state ready to reopen? A look at the data

There's a lot of data available regarding COVID-19, but it can be hard to figure out what it's telling us. I organized some key metrics for Virginia to see the complete picture of where the state stands and when it might be able to reopen.

Ted, Founder and Managing Partner at ClearPoint, has over 25 years of experience working with organizations to improve their performance management and strategy execution processes.

It’s week eight of quarantine here in Virginia, and the foxes that were born in the neighbor’s front yard are all grown up, we’re making our way through a 64 team bracket of animated movies, and our youthful lab attacks anyone in the house that starts dancing…what a strange fun sponge. Some days I wonder about this bizzaro world we’re living in. Will it ever go back to normal? When?

There is currently a lot of talk about reopening the economy—and the deaths that may come with taking those actions. It got me wondering, is my state ready to reopen? Here in Virginia, we have been closed since around March 12 and have been working remotely, with kids out of school during this time. There have been a lot of numbers thrown around…from # of tests, to # of infected, to # of deaths. Fairfax County is texting me every day with new data about the impact of COVID-19. The news is on 24x7 with data everywhere.

But still, I didn’t see a clear cut answer to the simple question: is Virginia ready?

At ClearPoint, we believe that data leads to information, and data linked with targets and goals can lead to better decision-making. So I tried to cut through the noise. I found some federal guidelines for reopening the economy here. I then dug around on the various COVID websites including the Virginia Department of Health, and I compared Virginia’s weekly data to the guidelines. It looks like we meet two of the six criteria.

gating criteria goals with current status icon

The news is not all bad. It looks like we will meet 3 of the criteria within a week with less COVID-like syndromic cases (over 14 days).

% change in the number of new cases line chart
covid like systems data bar chart

But our overall positive tests as a percent of overall tests is still creeping up, and we don’t have a robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers.

growth in % of tests that are positive bar chart

So, maybe Virginia is right around the corner for opening up. I’m not trying to be political on one side or the other about when we should be opening up, but I have found that seeing targets or gating criteria does allow me to put the data in context. We’ve known the problems all along with measurement. You can measure almost anything today, and we are drowning in data.

So let’s put these measures against targets, link them to goals, and drive a discussion about how close we are to meeting those goals (and what we can do to get there). It looks like my state could be ready to open soon as many of our measures are headed in the right direction. It would be great to see all the actions Virginia is taking to improve these numbers, but we’ll go one step at a time.

As for my next steps, I’ll be going to check these same measures in Alabama as my parents are getting restless about being cooped up. I want to make sure they are safe and give them hope about measures moving in the right direction.

And I’ll keep looking for my family’s next pick for movie night, for the next dance move or ping pong shot to get us laughing and our dog Riley jumping toward me in protest. With my daughter off to college in the fall, I’m at least very grateful for this massive silver lining—more time together.

Is my state ready to reopen? A look at the data