Jeramey Jannene

New Tool Tracks COVID-19 Changes By County

State DHS dashboard tracks active spread in last two weeks to guide decision makers.

By - Jun 23rd, 2020 01:46 pm
COVID-19: Activity Level by Region and County. Image from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

COVID-19: Activity Level by Region and County. Image from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services released a new dashboard Tuesday afternoon that highlights the active spread of COVID-19 by county, a move the department says is intended to give local decision makers more information.

“The unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic requires a nimble response,” said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm in a release announcing the dashboard. “This data dashboard makes it possible for local leaders, businesses, and individual Wisconsinites to better understand the level of COVID-19 activity they face in their communities and to take precautions accordingly.”

DHS has provided county-level data since March on the spread of COVID-19, but almost all of the data is cumulative, tracking the entire outbreak which has now gone on for more than 100 days.

The new dashboard looks at data over a two-week window. So while the existing dashboard says Racine County has had a cumulative case rate of 1,069.6 cases per 100,000 residents, the new dashboard lists a 14-day figure of 120 cases per 100,000 residents. The two-week window drops Racine County from second-worst in Wisconsin to fourth.

Milwaukee County is first by both measures, but is tied with Trempealeau County on the two-week “burden” figure of 170 cases per 100,000 residents. The small, western Wisconsin county (population 29,442) just south of Eau Claire has seen its two-week “trajectory” (percent case change) jump by 130 percent while Milwaukee County’s trajectory has decreased by 34 percent.

According to the dashboard’s data (current through June 17th), the rate of new COVID-19 cases has slowed in the past two weeks. The state has a “burden” of 70 cases per 100,000 residents (433.8 cumulative) with a “trajectory” of negative 15 percent.

While 19 of the state’s 72 counties, including Milwaukee, Trempealeau and Racine, are rated as having “high” COVID-19 activity levels, the state as a whole is given a “medium” grade.

The two-week window in the new dashboard is only current as of June 17th and does not reflect the recent upswing in the positive case rate seen in statewide data. Unlike the outbreak website that is updated every day at 2 p.m., the new dashboard will only be updated Wednesdays at 2 p.m.

Does this mean you should travel from a high COVID-19 area to one with a lower outbreak? “DHS continues to advise against travel between different areas of the state,” says the release.

“Our fight against COVID-19 isn’t over. Folks need to remember that this virus continues to spread in our state,” said Governor Tony Evers in announcing the dashboard. “We want to make sure Wisconsinites have accurate information about the status of COVID-19 in their communities. That’s why the next generation of Badger Bounce Back, a new data dashboard assessing COVID-19 activity level, is so critically important.”

DHS said the dashboard will be expanded in the upcoming weeks to include data on health care capacity, disease surveillance and public health response.

The data in the dashboard reflects only confirmed tests and may understate the spread of the disease if limited testing occurs.

Additional data on Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee can be found on the two entities’ local dashboards.

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Categories: Health

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