Three Steps to Data Fluency During COVID-19

The longer we live with the COVID-19, the more data there are to navigate. This is a mixed blessing: there has never been more information available, and it can be harder than ever to know which data matter most.

We want teams to be fluent in COVID-19 data because we know this enables them to focus on the small set of data points that can help them answer the questions they are facing.

 

Data fluency is a required skill during COVID-19.

Step 1: Understand key pieces of data and where to reliably source them.

  1. Symptoms are measured by the number of reported COVID-19 or influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms reported for a period or the rate of change in reported symptoms over time. Recommended source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  2. Cases are measured by the total number of COVID-19 cases (confirmed or suspected), the rate of change in cases over time, or the projected number of cases. Recommended sources: The COVID Tracking Project, Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, and The New York Times.
  3. Transmission is measured by Rt, which is the rate at which one infected individual results in new cases. Recommended source: Rt.live.
  4. Hospitalizations are measured by the total or projected number of hospitalizations or ICU hospitalizations in an area. Recommended source: The COVID Tracking Project.
  5. Hospital capacity is measured by the number or percent of ICU beds available. Recommended sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and COVID Care Map.
  6. Positive virological tests are measured by the number of tests which confirm active infections or the percentage of these tests relative to a target. Recommended sources: The COVID Tracking Project, Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, The New York Times, and Test and Trace.
  7. Positive serological tests, also known as antibody tests, are measured by the number of tests which indicate prior infections or the percentage of these tests relative to a target. Recommended source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (in process).
  8. Contact tracing is measured by the number of contacts traced or the percentage of contacts traced relative to a target. Recommended source: Test and Trace.
  9. Mortality is measured by the total number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 or the rate of change in deaths over time. Recommended sources: The COVID Tracking Project, Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, The New York Times.

Step 2: Know your local resources.

 

Step 3: Know what questions you need to answer.

  1. New Cases: We track a 7-day rolling average of the increase in new cases of COVID-19. This provides an indicator of recent growth that buffers against day-to-day variation.
  2. Positive Tests: We track the percentage of virological tests that are positive for COVID-19. The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that this rate be below 5%. Rates exceeding 5% strongly suggest that testing is insufficient and producing an incomplete indication of infections.
  3. Transmission: We track Rt, or the estimated average number of infections that result from a single infected individual. This provides an indication of the current level of spread. An Rt value over 1 indicates that continued growth in new cases is likely.

Cases tell us about the recent growth that has been measured. Positive tests tell us how complete that measure is by giving us an indication of what portion of the cases in a community are being detected. Transmission gives us an indication of whether and how that growth may continue. Collectively, these measures provide a strong understanding of the risk of continued spread in a community.

We regularly update these data and make them freely available on this site.

YjcfD-risk-of-covid-19-infection-spread-by-state-Aug-13-2020-07-26-15-30-PM