Watchdogs Praise NY COVID-19 Data Progress, Ask Governor Hochul to “Finish the Job”


Since April of last year, watchdog groups have sent numerous letters urging New York State to publish more COVID-19 datasets as open data. Over the past few months, the state has finally taken major steps to improve COVID-19 open data, and NY’s COVID-19 open datasets now number 23, up from one in April 2020.

Last month, Reinvent Albany and eight other groups sent a letter to Governor Hochul praising the state’s progress and asking her to “finish the job” by publishing all of the available datasets at open data. The letter included general recommendations and an updated list of 270 open data points the state can provide, 119 of which are already available in the open data portal. The state has already adopted some of the recommendations, including linking to open datasets from the COVID-19 portal, and adding more data to the hospitalizations page.

View the letter here and below.

Note: Thanks to Michael Fitzgerald at The Imprint for reaching out to us about OCFS Covid-19 data transparency. Check out The Imprint’s reporting on the issue here and here.

Governor Kathy Hochul                                VIA EMAIL
New York State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

November 24, 2021

Re: New COVID-19 Webpage and Data Are a Welcome Step Forward, Please Finish the Job

Dear Governor Hochul,

Thank you for publishing more COVID-19 open data and making it easier for the public to find. The new COVID-19 webpage and datasets are a welcome step forward, and by going even further, New York State could become the clear leader in COVID-19 transparency. Some important COVID-19 data is still not available or usable by the public. We ask today that you finish the job and publish all of the state’s COVID-19 public datasets as open data.

We appreciate that you have linked to most New York COVID-19 webpages from one page, making it far easier for the public to locate the data they want. The new front page will make COVID-19 data more accessible going forward, and we ask that all COVID-19 pages – such as DOCCS and OCFS – are also linked.

Thank you also for adding more COVID-19 data to the Open NY portal, including:

  • COVID-19 hospitalizations and beds
  • COVID-19 hospital staff vaccinations
  • COVID-19 hospital admissions by gender
  • COVID-19 testing and hospital admissions by zip code
  • COVID-19 report cards for public, private, and charter schools, and BOCES programs

We are encouraged by your progress and urge you to complete this work by publishing all of the 270 open datasets and records listed in the chart we’ve attached. The state already provides more than 70 of these in some form, but not as open data. We have also attached a list of recommendations for improving COVID-19 data sharing in New York generally.

Thank you,

John Kaehny
Executive Director
Reinvent Albany

Noel Hidalgo
Executive Director

Betsy Gotbaum
Executive Director
Citizens Union

Susan Lerner
Executive Director
Common Cause New York

Tim Hoefer
Executive Director
Empire Center for Public Policy

Laura Ladd Bierman
Executive Director
League of Women Voters of New York State

Todd Fettig
Executive Director
National Freedom of Information Coalition

Diane Kennedy
New York News Publishers Association

Blair Horner
Executive Director
New York Public Interest Research Group




  • Add all COVID-19 datasets to the open data portal. The state has already provided more than 119 datasets as open data. It should go further and include all datasets in the portal. All “Y” datasets in the attached spreadsheet are already provided in a tabular format.
  • Link to all open data from related COVID-19 pages. Though the NYS Open Data portal contains a wealth of open data, the state’s COVID-19 pages do not link to this data directly. We believe that all data pages should link directly to the source data in the open data portal, as on the NYC COVID-19 data page.
  • Link to all COVID-19 data pages across all agencies from the main page. Several pages, such as the DOCCS COVID-19 Report, are not linked to from the main page.


  • Provide testing data by age group and race/ethnicity.


  • Provide all datasets in the open data portal on this page. Many of the datasets available in the open data portal are not provided on the Health Department’s website.


  • Provide the dates and locations of all deaths, including those occurring outside of hospitals and nursing homes and those that are presumed as well as laboratory-confirmed.
  • Include fatalities by zip code.
  • Allow for viewing comorbidities by date if possible. This can help the public see how the virus is evolving and which groups it impacts the most.


  • Track fatalities at nursing homes and other adult care facilities by date. Currently only the cumulative fatalities are available.
  • Release the full results of the spring 2020 survey of COVID-19 in nursing homes. 


  • Track fatalities at correctional facilities by date. Currently only the cumulative fatalities are available.

OCFS Weekly Facility COVID-19 Report

  • Add this dataset to the open data portal. It is already provided in a spreadsheet format.

COVID-19 Homeless Population Report

Resume tracking and publishing homeless population data. This data is still beneficial for the public and those working to assist the homeless, but tracking concluded with the end of the official state of emergency on June 24th.