BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Jefferson County Health Department announced it now has zip code data to track COVID-19 on its website.
It is a huge deal because the JCHD has been trying to make this information available for quite some time, but couldn’t until now because of HIPAA laws.
“Because of HIPAA laws we’ve had to go through a process of getting an independent expert statistical analysis to show us how we can do that sharing of data to be compliant with HIPAA privacy rules,” said Jefferson County Health Officer, Dr. Mark Wilson.
The JCHD received that data on Friday and put it on its website, but there are some limits to what information can be released.
“The rules that we’ve been given are that we cannot provide individual identifiers for population for less than 10 people for a population for less than 20,000, so what we’ve done is provided that data for units of population that are greater than 20,000 and for where we have more than 10 cases,” Dr. Wilson said.
Some zip codes had to be combined because they’re sparsely populated, but you can click on different areas of the map to see the actual number of confirmed cases and rate of infection.
“I will add that we’re going to be adding in the next couple of days data on how many tests are going to be done per zip code as well so we can look at the distribution of the testing,” Dr. Wilson said.
As the novel coronavirus continues to capture our attention, many are looking for visual aids like heat maps to understand the impact the virus has had on our country.
Those maps are available in places like Mobile, but Dr. Wilson said they will have to look into whether or not that can be done in our area.