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A Data-Driven COVID-19 Donation to NYC's Most Vulnerable

June 5, 2020
Erik Edelmann

This is our story of how we determined one way we would give back during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At DAS42, we believe that our people and our culture can grow through service and giving to our communities much in the same way our business grows and evolves through superior service to our clients. The rapid proliferation of the COVID-19 pandemic made us ask ourselves what we could do for our communities in a time where helping hands are best lent from a distance. 

Firstly, we thought it best to play our strengths for this contribution. DAS42 is focused on enabling modern and meaningful analytics for our clients, so we knew we wanted to use data to determine how best to give back. We’re also fortunate to be able to continue serving our clients remotely, so our work is insulated from some of the hardships brought on by the pandemic. 

Given all this, we decided to make a financial contribution to a front-line institution based on descriptive findings from publicly sourced COVID-19 data. 

Using Data to Donate

We leaned on best-in-class tools and technologies from our partners at Looker and Snowflake to perform a basic analysis of public COVID-19 data. It took minutes for Snowflake to provision a data share for us, giving us access to up-to-date COVID-19 data from one of their data provider partners. We used our internal Looker instance—drawing from Looker's own COVID-19 Data Block—to start diving into the data. 

A short, descriptive analysis of the data quickly revealed the severity of the situation in much of New York City. New York is a city we think and care a lot about, and it is one of two hubs in which our team members are based. Here we’ll go over the analysis that led us to decide to donate $4,200 to NYC Health + Hospitals—one of the largest healthcare systems in the country, and the system which manages Elmhurst Hospital; a public safety net hospital situated in one of the most acutely affected parts of one of the most acutely affected cities in the world. 

First Glance

This first visual indicates the sheer volume of cases being reported in New York, relative to the rest of the country. The picture changes on a per-capita basis but still indicates the severity of the situation in New York. 

Here we see a county-level version of the case count heatmap, drawing our eyes and further narrowing our focus to the NYC area.

The Epicenter

Here, we look into the different boroughs of NYC to get a more detailed picture of how the pandemic has affected different areas in different ways. 

Queens has the highest volume of cases (due in part to a large population) as well as the highest positive test rate (ratio of positive tests to total tests administered). The Bronx has more cases per capita but also more tests administered per capita.

In terms of approximate preparedness, Queens also has far fewer ICU beds at its disposal than the other boroughs. The city is, of course, sharing resources, but we thought the disparity was notable.

Disparities

As we dig deeper into the most affected parts of the city, we see an unfortunate degree of inverse correlation between average income and positive test rate by zip code. A conclusion one might draw from this could be that many higher income jobs are possible to be performed remotely, thus reducing the transmission of the virus in certain locales.

The same conclusion can be drawn a different way.

When you put positive test rates against population density and color code by income bracket, the same theme recurs.

Where Help is Needed Most

Finally, our attention was drawn to one particular zip code that stood out as an outlier in terms of cases per capita and positive test rate (and actually case volume as well, in large part because it is also one of the most populous zip codes in the city). This zip code is the biggest bubble at the top of both scatter plots. It is the center of the bright red zone in the case count heatmap, and it is shown here as the zip code with the highest positive test rate to date—on top of an enormous population with relatively low household income.

This zip code is at or near the top of this chart when ranking by positive test rate or cases per capita, but it doesn’t even make the top 15 when ranked by total tests administered per capita. Many of its residents are likely served by a nearby safety net hospital called Elmhurst Hospital, which is why we’ve decided to donate to this hospital’s network, NYC Health + Hospitals, so that they may best determine how to disperse these funds. 

According to NYC Health + Hospitals, they can use our donation for as many as 300 meals, 150 bags of groceries, or 200 new pairs of scrubs, all for their frontline staff doing real good for the real people of NYC.

Closing Thoughts

This pandemic affects all of us in different ways. We hope that our small step toward giving back will encourage you to think of how you might help someone else in whatever way you are able. If you want to join us in helping NYC get through this pandemic by donating to NYC Health + Hospitals, please visit their donate page below. 

COVID-19 Relief Efforts | NYC Health + Hospitals.

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