I’m Betsy Ladyzhets, an independent science, health, and data journalist currently focused on tracking the pandemic. I run the COVID-19 Data Dispatch, a publication that provides news, resources, and original reporting on COVID-19 data sources. I’m also a (part-time) journalism fellow at Documenting COVID-19, a project that obtains, publishes, and reports on COVID-related public records, housed at the Brown Institute for Media Innovation and MuckRock.

Previously, I worked as a data journalist at Stacker and volunteered for the COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic. My freelance work has appeared in Science News, MIT Technology Review, FiveThirtyEight, The Open Notebookand other national publications.

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Why You Can’t See The Most Important Omicron Hot Spots In The U.S. On A Map

As Omicron surges everywhere in the U.S. at once, it’s hard to identify the most important hot spots: in other words, those among the people most vulnerable to severe disease and most capable of shutting down society.

How schools that kept Covid cases low are battling new variants

School districts that successfully brought students back while keeping COVID-19 cases low in the 2020-2021 school year faced a new set of challenges in fall 2021, ranging from tricky quarantine policies to staff burnout.

Missouri allocated $11M for vaccine gift cards. Most health departments said no thanks

Missouri officials lobbied the CDC for additional funding to distribute gift cards to residents who got vaccinated, but only 20 out of 115 eligible local health departments opted into the program. This project was a collaboration between the Missouri Independent and Documenting COVID-19.

The U.S. Is Relying On Other Countries’ Data To Make Its Booster Shot Decisions

If the U.S. doesn’t comprehensively track its own data, it has to rely on other countries to tell it how to keep Americans safe. Meanwhile, without clear evidence, many Americans have been confused about whether they need a booster shot.

‘Soooo frustrating:’ Infighting, bad predictions hindered Missouri response to Delta

An investigation, based on hundreds of public records, revealed how miscommunication and a lack of preparedness hurt Southwest Missouri’s ability to address the Delta surge in summer 2021. This project was a collaboration between the Missouri Independent and Documenting COVID-19.

COVID-19 testing in schools works. So why aren’t more doing it?

This Science News feature explores major hurdles to routine COVID-19 testing programs in K-12 schools, which include: a lack of clear guidance on how testing programs should work, obtaining tests, gaining consent from parents and communicating the value of testing to families and staff in increasingly polarized environments.