Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced the creation of two statewide dashboards that should show how the state is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and make more state-wide health equity available to residents.

The dashboards were created by the commonwealth’s Health Equity Leadership task force with the help of several other state agencies in response to two pieces of legislation that require the state’s Chief Diversity Officer to conduct statewide health equity assessments and declared racism a public health crisis in Virginia.

“The pandemic has placed a spotlight on longstanding health inequities and the harm caused by structural racism,” Gov. Northam said in a release. “Virginia continues to embed equity into every part of our COVID-19 response and recovery and while we have made great strides, there is still important work to be done. These dashboards will bring additional visibility to our most pressing challenges, allowing the Commonwealth to better serve vulnerable populations and ensure the equitable distribution of resources.”

The Equity in Action dashboard will focus on how the Commonwealth is doing with COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, from a health equity standpoint. It will also examine other Virginia initiatives to look to “advance the equitable distribution of resources and services, according to the site of Chief Diversity Officer Janice Underwood.

The other dashboard, the Equity at a Glance dashboard will be a “transparent assessment of social determinants of health and other factors contributing to health equity,” according to the release. The release notes that future versions of the Equity at a Glance dashboard will also include more topic areas, including criminal justice and workforce diversity.

“This interagency project shows us how data can be used to measure Virginia’s standing in many areas including COVID resources, health care, unemployment, education, food access, and broadband across 133 localities,” Virginia Chief Data Officer Carlos Rivero said in the release. “This is a best practice in data sharing and sets a positive precedent for increased collaboration across state agencies.”

These are thought to be the first public state-wide health equity dashboards, according to the release. That keeps the Commonwealth of Virginia at the cutting edge on diversity and equity efforts, as Virginia was also the first state to create a state-wide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategy, according to Underwood.

“These dashboards enable the Virginia Department of Health and other leaders to get the information we need to confront inequity across social determinants of health,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver, said in the release. “Public health officials, community leaders, and policymakers can use these resources now as we work to recover from the COVID-19 public health crisis and beyond.”

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is MeriTalk SLG's Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.