As the nation marks Sunshine Week March 14-20, the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW) calls on officials at all levels of government to commit to improved dissemination of information about the COVID-19 pandemic.

The continued lack of transparency at federal, state and local levels of government about the impacts of COVID-19 is unacceptable. As the pandemic enters its second year, the public has a right to know important details about the impact of the virus on our communities and about governmental efforts to provide relief.

From the number of deaths in nursing homes and prisons to dollar amounts for Paycheck Protection Program loans, information has been withheld from the public for too long. When data has been disclosed, it is often incomplete and raises more questions than it answers.

The purpose of Sunshine Week (March 14-20) is to call attention to the need for open records rules that are robust and effective. SABEW, the world’s largest organization for financial journalists, believes governments are falling far short of the mark when it comes to data about the pandemic.

Without precise data, policymakers will experience difficulty in developing recovery plans and building public support for them.

Here are some examples from across the country:

New York State

https://spectrumlocalnews.com/nys/central-ny/ny-state-of-politics/2021/03/04/watchdog-groups-seek-covid-transparency-from-new-york

Washington State
https://www.doh.wa.gov/Newsroom/Articles/ID/1132/Statement-on-delay-in-COVID-19-data-posting

North Carolina

https://www.newsobserver.com/news/coronavirus/article244672767.html

Pennsylvania
https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/spl/pennsylvania-prisons-coronavirus-deaths-data-transparency-20210129.html

United States
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/05/us/coronavirus-deaths-undercount.html

https://www.agriculture.com/news/business/states-are-rolling-back-recent-transparency-measures-in-how-they-report-meatpacking

Learn more about Sunshine Week.