Databases have proliferated during the COVID-19 pandemic. What does CUSP add?

CUSP is specifically designed to facilitate rapid response data journalism and research on COVID-19 and economic precarity during the join pandemic and economic crisis. We provide policy data by state that may be linked with health and economic data by state. As policy researchers, we know it is important to have information on the dates of policies to conduct research on how health and other outcomes changed before and after policy changes. We are glad for the CUSP database to complement the important efforts of groups such as the Kaiser Family Foundation, American Public Media, The Atlantic and Dr. Ibram Kendi’s COVID-19 Racial Data Tracker, the Eviction Lab, and the Commonwealth Fund and hope that each of these databases inform policy responses that improve health and reduce economic precarity. Our introductory webinar shares our team’s findings after a year of collecting policy data and offers suggestions for how to use the CUSP database in future research, journalism, and policymaking.

How have researchers used the CUSP data?

Researchers have used the CUSP database to inform more than 60 studies as of March 2021. Examples of COVID-19 research include an article published in Health Affairs, in which Drs. Lyu and Wehby found that state mask requirements were associated with reduced county level COVID-19 growth rates (use of CUSP data is cited in their appendix). CUSP researcher Dr. Jonathan Jay also led a study on state physical distancing policies and the proportion of people staying at home all day by neighborhood income levels. The CUSP team recently used the data on state minimum wage policies in a pre-print study indicating that a minimum wage of $12 or more was associated with reduced food insufficiency during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How have policymakers used CUSP data?

The Biden administration cited CUSP’s data on state mask policies in the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness. We also provide data on key policy decisions by state.

You recommend triangulating the policy data. What are some of the other databases you recommend?

There are several great datasets available as researchers and nonprofits come together to inform the COVID-19 policy response, including: 

  • The Eviction Lab (catalogs national data on evictions)
  • Ballotpedia (tracks state laws passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic)
  • Kaiser Family Foundation (details state data and policy actions centered on COVID-19)
  • Washington University (contains the social distancing policies used in each state)
  • University of Chicago (identifies daily changes in COVID-19 cases at the state and county levels)
  • The Atlantic and the Center for Antiracist Research COVID-19 Racial Data Tracker tracks COVID-19 race and ethnicity data across the United States

Are there any datasets you recommend pairing with the CUSP data to evaluate the associations between policies and outcomes?

For data on COVID-19 cases and deaths, we recommend using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveillance data. It is easy to apply for restricted use data that include state and county. These data are well described on the COVID Tracking Project blog. The Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center and The New York Times COVID-19 Case Tracker also have COVID-19 case and death data by state and county. The Atlantic and Dr. Ibram Kendi’s COVID-19 Racial Data Tracker contains data on COVID-19 cases and deaths by race and ethnicity.

For economic data, Census Pulse surveys provide data by state. The Urban Institute has provided Census Pulse Survey Data in an easy to download format. The University of Southern California’s CESR has been surveying respondents nationally every two weeks for their Understanding American Study. The longitudinal data can be accessed for free through a data request.

How do you decide which policies to add and to keep updated?

We prioritize policies that help support people most vulnerable to COVID-19 and its economic ramifications. During the spring of 2021, we are prioritizing keeping state mask requirement and physical distancing policies up to date as important for COVID-19 prevention. We are also prioritizing state unemployment insurance policies and eviction moratoriums. We continuously prioritize tracking state COVID-19 data reporting by race and ethnicity as important for informing COVID-19 prevention among people most affected by the pandemic. Please contact us if you have ideas about further policies it would be helpful to add to the database.

Can I use the database for my grant?

Yes, please do! The database is meant to inform research. We are also happy to discuss potential collaborations and adding further policies to CUSP if you contact us.

How should I cite the CUSP database?

Suggested citation: Raifman J, Nocka K, Jones D, Bor J, Lipson S, Jay J, and Chan P. (2020). “COVID-19 US state policy database.” Available at: www.tinyurl.com/statepolicies.