In hopes of giving people a better understanding of the transmission risk in their communities and the impact of COVID-19 on the state, the Alabama Department of Public Health has redesigned its online dashboard for tracking COVID-19 trends.
The new COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard first appeared Thursday, but server issues kept the dashboard from updating on Friday. The dashboard is updated daily by 10 a.m.
The most recent numbers available show Alabama with 1,251 hospitalizations as of Thursday and a 7-day percent positivity rate of 21.5%. Alabama has one of the highest positivity rates – the rate of positive test results over the previous seven days – and one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.
Changes to the dashboard include revising the state’s risk indicators to align with those used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The color-coded risk indicator dashboard used by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) to tell what counties were at “low” risk or “very high” risk will no longer be updated.
Instead, the new dashboard provides an overall level of community transmission. There are still color-coded risk categories (blue, yellow, orange and red) that represent ranges of cases per 100,000 people and the percent positive rate over the previous seven days.
“The CDC levels of community transmission are referenced in many guidance documents, including the K-12 guidance for schools, so it is important to align with those measures,” an ADPH news release stated. “It is important to note that if the two indicators suggest different transmission levels, the higher level is selected.”
The dashboard also eliminates the “Total Tested” count, which ADPH said is less meaningful due to unreported tests and home testing.
With the dashboard, users can click on their county and see the moving seven-day average of new cases instead of comparing a 3, 7, and 14-day averages. Users will see a percentage change in cases as well as the percent positivity rate based on the 7-day moving average.
“The moving average is used to identify trends by smoothing small fluctuations over a period of time,” the ADPH release stated.
The moving percent change, the 7-day average change in number of cases, and the moving 7-day percent positivity will be provided.
Cases and deaths are also broken down by year rather than just a sum of both years. The new dashboard features only one overall total for cases and deaths, doing away with the “confirmed” and “probable” breakdowns previously used.
Additional tabs on the dashboard provide graphics on hospitalizations, actual daily case counts compared to the 7-day moving average, a comparison of when cases occurred and when they were reported to ADPH. There are also tabs that show bar graphs that break down cases and deaths by age, race and ethnicity.
A new tab shows the geographic distribution of COVID-19 variants around the state over the past four weeks. The tab divides the state in districts, showing how many and which variants have been found in each district.
The new dashboard can be found at https://alpublichealth.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/6d2771faa9da4a2786a509d82c8cf0f7. There is also a mobile version configured to work on small mobile screens: https://alpublichealth.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/ea2a3c6bca554bdebf8e52d9ffb5d4a9
For additional COVID-19 information and updates, visit alabamapublichealth.gov.
Peggy Ussery is a Dothan Eagle staff writer and can be reached at email@example.com or 334-712-7963. Support her work and that of other Eagle journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at dothaneagle.com.