The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) on Monday launched a new pandemic metrics dashboard with more specific, aggregated data to show where COVID-19 is spreading in Virginia’s different regions and any changes occurring over time.
The new dashboard will be updated weekly and features three different tabs: About the Data, Daily Region Metrics, Weekly Transmission Extent. Additionally, School Metrics from the CDC are included within the dashboard.
“Communities across the Commonwealth are facing different challenges as we all continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Virginia State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver in a news release. “This pandemic dashboard provides data for communities to individualize and tailor response efforts to local needs.”
The first tab, About the Data, simply gives an overview of what the dashboard and the other tabs show.
The Daily Region Metrics and Weekly Transmission Extent tabs are significantly more detailed and provide the bulk of important data.
Specifically, the Daily Region Metrics tab shows the time series, the burden, the amount or quantity, and the trend, changes over time, of COVID-19 data broken down into eight different indicators, which includes daily case incidence rate per 100,000 people, daily PCR percent positivity and the rate of outbreaks per 100,000 people, among others.
The tab also allows the data to be specific by region or for all of Virginia, on a specific date and different statistics. It also provides thresholds to measure the numbers by.
For example, as of Monday, in the central region, the daily case incidence rate per 100,000 is 9.8 cases.
The Weekly Transmission Extent tab calculates and shows composite scores for the burden and trend every week to determine extent of transmission in each region.
Furthermore, the regions’ extent of transmission has five levels: substantial, approaching substantial, moderate, approaching moderate and low. The overall trend and burden as well as a week-by-week graph for each region is also shown.
Currently, the Virginia’s central region has a moderate burden and is at moderate community transmission.
“Our idea behind this dashboard was to first be able to aggregate the data, compile a lot of different statistics and use an algorithm in a way that you can get one overall picture of a level of transmission in the region,” Dr. Lilian Peake, state epidemiologist, said in an interview with The Virginia Star.
Peake added: “The pandemic dashboard has lots of metrics and those in themselves are really interesting to look at and follow because we show the trend, but what is also important is that the algorithm combines all of those metrics into composite scores and then translates that into a level of transmission so you can get an overall picture and idea of what is going on.”
The additional School Metrics tab uses metrics based on the CDC indicators for dynamic school decision making to assist and guide school officials, taking into consideration the school’s ability to implement and adhere to key mitigation strategies to decrease transmission of COVID-19, according to the news release.
Also provided within the tab is a map of all Virginia localities where you can select between five different indicators, 14-day case incidence being one indicator, to see how each locality is fairing.
The pandemic metrics dashboard does not impact the broader daily COVID-19 dashboard.
When asked about a potential fall or second wave of COVID-19, Dr. Laurie Forlano, deputy commissioner for population health, urged Virginians to remain vigilant in following public health and safety protocols.
“We all want this to be over, but we don’t really have a [timeframe] for that right now, so it’s tempting when numbers start to look better and improve to feel like we can take our guard down,” Forlano told The Star. “I think what we have to remember is when numbers are going down a lot of that has to do with what we’ve done to make that happen.”
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