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Improvements to COVID-19 Data Dashboard Continue to Better Inform Public

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Bureau for Public Health continues to make improvements to the dashboard with helpful information, including searchable county specific information with demographics on positive cases and individuals tested.  

“This information will better inform individuals about what is happening in their own county,” said Bill J. Crouch, DHHR Cabinet Secretary. “It can help guide action, emphasizing the importance of both individual and community prevention efforts. The team at the Bureau for Public Health, led by Dr. Cathy Slemp, her staff and the many partners are to be commended for their hard work, dedication, and research to make this level of detail available.”

The updates will also reflect changes in national definitions and evolving technology. As more is understood about COVID-19 and how it is best managed, new standards for data collection and reporting have evolved. This update to the dashboard captures these shifts.   

As a result of recent increases in availability of serology-based testing and statewide efforts to improve electronic reporting of COVID-19, DHHR has recently begun receiving serology-based laboratory results. Serology-based test results will not be included in the dashboard reporting of confirmed laboratory results but will be reported separately on the county and lab tests tabs.  Serology testing offers a different tool for understanding disease occurrence in communities. 

The dashboard will now report both active and recovered cases by county.  “Recovery data from case investigations allows us to look at outcomes – following individuals through to their end of illness,” Dr. Cathy Slemp, State Health Officer and Commissioner for DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health.

In alignment with updated definitions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the dashboard now includes probable cases. Although a small portion of the cases to date, probable cases are individuals that have symptoms and either serologic (antibody) or epidemiologic (e.g., a link to a confirmed case) evidence of disease, but no confirmatory test.  Public health takes all the same precautions for probable cases as confirmed cases, so those are now included.   

“Inclusion of probable cases in the publicly reported case counts more accurately represents disease burden in communities and provides us with better information to drive behavioral change and appropriate response,” Dr. Slemp added. 

Implementation of these changes will initially result in a one-time larger than usual increase in cases and a one-time unusual decrease in the number of lab tests on the next update.  Subsequent updates would be anticipated to continue to advance as previously noted.