The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) will be making changes to the type of data displayed on the Coronavirus Dashboard and the frequency of updates on the Coronavirus Dashboard and the COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard. The changes, effective on Friday, March 18, align with the current state of the pandemic and with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Community Level framework released in late February.
“Throughout the pandemic response, the NDDoH has worked to provide data to help North Dakotans understand what is happening in our counties and in the state, so they can make informed decisions. Since March 2020, most of the COVID-19 case data came from testing, extensive interviews, and collaboration with partners,” said North Dakota State Epidemiologist, Dr. Tracy Miller. “Two years later, with vaccinations, antibody treatment, decreased hospitalizations, and the availability and use of at-home test kits, which are not reported to or verified by the state, we have decided to refine our dashboard to better reflect the spread of disease and the burden to our health care system in the state. These changes align with the new COVID-19 Community Levels and Indicators tracked by the CDC.”
The weekly dashboard will be simplified in how data is presented and will shift from a focus on daily case counts and percent positivity rates and have an increased focus on trends over time and severity of disease.
Hospitalization data previously included only individuals who were North Dakota residents hospitalized due to COVID. The new dashboard will align with national reporting and will include all individuals hospitalized with or due to COVID who are in North Dakota hospitals, regardless of their state of residency. The dashboard will have charts to illustrate statewide hospital capacity. The change to align with national reporting practice will initially result in a significant increase in the number of hospitalizations reported.
In addition to updating the data shown on the dashboard, the NDDoH will move to a weekly publication of data on its Coronavirus Dashboard and COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard. Effective March 18, 2022, the data will be published weekly instead of daily. According to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, multiple states have already adopted a weekly cadence to report cases and deaths, with only 10 states reporting daily.
“Weekly updates are more consistent with how some of the other infectious diseases are reported,” said Kirby Kruger, NDDoH Disease Control and Forensic Pathology Section Chief. “Daily numbers fluctuate. A look at the data on a weekly basis gives a clearer picture of what is happening at any given time and helps our citizens to make decisions for their health.”