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CDC COVID Data Tracker Debuts New Look, Updated Data Points

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is no longer calculating county COVID-19 transmission rates based on test positivity rates and new infections that health care facilities were required to review weekly. Also gone are COVID-19 Community Level (CCL) calculations that were designed to help guide masking decisions and other infection control activities in the community. As of May 11, 2023, the CDC COVID Data Tracker displays hospital admission, death, and emergency department (ED) visit data as the primary surveillance metrics for COVID-19.

COVID-19-associated hospital admission levels will be the primary indicator of COVID-19 trends to help guide community and personal decisions related to risk and prevention behaviors; the percentage of COVID-19-associated deaths among all reported deaths, based on provisional death certificate data, will be the primary indicator used to monitor COVID-19 mortality. ED visits with a COVID-19 diagnosis and the percentage of positive SARS-CoV-2 test results, derived from an established sentinel network, will help detect early changes in trends.

Hospitals will continue to report the number of COVID-19-positive patients who visit emergency rooms or are admitted to the facility, and the CDC is working with state and local health departments to monitor infectious disease trends through wastewater samples. Lab reporting will be voluntary but is still expected to help provide data on COVID-19 positivity rates. While updates are coming to nursing home National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) reporting, the expectation is that weekly reporting of COVID-19 surveillance data as well as of resident and staff vaccination status will continue.

Along with a home page that has a new look and dedicated pages for hospitalizationsED visits, and wastewater surveillance data, the CDC lists the following as notable changes to the approach to COVID-19 data tracking:

  • Hospital admission rates and the percentage of COVID-19 deaths among all deaths are now the primary surveillance metrics.
  • COVID-19 hospital admission levels replace CCLs as the main indicator of county trends. COVID-19 hospital admission levels are comparable with CCLs.
  • Provisional death certificate data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) will become the primary source for mortality surveillance, replacing aggregate death counts.
  • Aggregate case and death count reporting has been discontinued.
  • ED visit data will serve as an early indicator of COVID-19 activity.
  • County-level COVID-19 Electronic Laboratory Reporting data on test positivity will no longer be posted because national reporting of negative laboratory results is no longer required.
  • The National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS), a voluntary reporting network of more than 450 laboratories, will be the new primary source for regional test positivity data and another early indicator.

The CDC will continue to provide hospitalization measures on the county level with color-coded maps indicating high, medium, and low rates for easy reference. We encourage members to become familiar with the new layout and available data. The May 12th issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the CDC also details the COVID-19 surveillance changes being made and is available here.

LeadingAge NY Contact: Darius Kirstein, dkirstein@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8841