We think there’s a better way to release critical COVID-19 data
“If you need to be right before you move, you’ll never win. Perfection is the enemy of the good when it comes to emergency management. Speed trumps perfection. The problem right now is everyone is afraid of making a mistake.”
That quote came from the World Health Organisation’s boss of emergency programs in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it still rings true as we all work to beat this terrible virus.
Politicians, health experts, radio presenters, new stay-at-home parents — a lot of us are doing things for the first time right now, and we’re all going to make mistakes.
And that’s largely OK, provided we are always open to polite but critical feedback, and remain willing to embrace good logic.
So, in that spirit, we’ve got an idea we’d like to present to the Victorian Government and Chief Health Officer.
Pick a time and platform to release daily health data, and stick to it.
Many (if not all) health experts tell us that the amount of new daily cases is a critical statistic to understanding how the coronavirus is affecting communities and whether our attempts to slow its spread are working.
The Victorian government also knows this, which is why it is giving daily updates.
But the manner in which the government has released this information thus far has been haphazard and confusing. And, as such, that has made it unnecessarily difficult for Victorians to follow and embrace this critical information.
Today Premier Daniel Andrews popped up on a music radio station with the latest figures.
One day the Chief Health Officer made the announcement on breakfast television.
Earlier this week we were left waiting until after midday when the Health Minister posted a tweet that didn’t even specifically detail the number of new cases, but made everyone do the maths to work it out ourselves.
There are now 1158 confirmed cases of #COVID-19 in Vic. Yesterday a man in his 50s died in hospital & a woman in her 80s died at home, taking the number of people who died in Victoria from #COVID-19 to 10. My thoughts are with their families. #springst 1/2
— Jenny Mikakos MP #StayHomeSaveLives (@JennyMikakos) April 6, 2020
A different time and a different channel, every day.
Conversely, the NSW Premier releases her state’s data at an 8am press conference every day.
Let’s be clear: 3AW is not after an exclusive. We got the scoop one day, too. So we’re not driven by jealousy on this.
We are simply suggesting you pick a time and a place, and tell us how we’re tracking.
Many, including 3AW hosts Ross Stevenson and Neil Mitchell, have praised the Premier’s leadership in these extraordinary circumstances, largely due to his ability to clearly articulate and sell some very complex and punishing news.
Victorians have embraced that, and we all ought to be proud our response so far.
But Victorians need to see the results of their efforts to either feel rewarded, or understand why further measures are required.
By putting a regular plan in place to release the data, media outlets can plan to give the numbers maximum exposure and Victorians will know exactly where and when to look for an update.
It will help to motivate and unite the state in our fight against this awful virus.
Click PLAY to hear Neil Mitchell’s comments on the way COVID-19 data is released
Click PLAY to hear 3AW Breakfast this morning
(Above photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)