The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today released its plan for the current stage of the pandemic, Moving Forward Together (Spanish). NCDHHS also announced upcoming changes to its COVID-19 Data Dashboard starting March 23.
Governor Roy Cooper, NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley and NC Department of Commerce Secretary Machelle Sanders held a press briefing today to look ahead to a new phase of COVID-19. The NCDHHS approach is based on four principles: prioritizing equity, empowering individuals, maintaining health system capacity, and collaborating with local partners. The full plan is available online in English and Spanish.
Throughout the past two years, NCDHHS has elevated and adjusted a combination of metrics to understand impacts of the pandemic and to guide the state’s response. In this next phase, the department will elevate different metrics to reflect North Carolina’s current state. Some key metrics reported throughout the pandemic no longer meet the current situation and will no longer be used.
Beginning on March 23, the Summary page of the NCDHHS COVID-19 Dashboard will be updated weekly on Wednesdays and will include a focus on seven key metrics.
- Wastewater testing can detect and quantify the SARS Co-V-2 virus in community wastewater systems. This testing may be an early indicator of increases in other metrics.
- COVID-like illness in hospital emergency departments is a percentage of total emergency visits. It is also an early indicator of rising cases, and it warns about increasing strain on hospital capacity.
- COVID-19 hospital admissions, when high, can indicate strained capacity at hospitals, which may lead to difficulty caring for people with COVID-19 and for people with non-COVID-19 emergencies or elective procedures.
- COVID-19 reported cases reflect people who have tested positive for COVID-19. This number gives an idea of community transmission, even though it does not reflect all COVID-19 cases.
- Booster rates give an indication of how much of the population is up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations, which is one indicator of immunity and protection against severe disease and need for hospital level care. This data is also available at the county level.
- A new variant, and its levels in the state, may cause a shift in the state’s response or in individuals’ choices about layered protection.
- The CDC’s COVID-19 community levels is based on hospital beds in use, hospital admissions and cases. This tool can help people understand COVID-19 spread in their community.
Other Dashboard Notes
- Demographic data will be available on interior dashboard pages for hospitalizations, COVID-19 cases and vaccines.
- The weekly Respiratory Virus Surveillance Summary will continue to be published on Thursdays.
- The more detailed data currently provided on individual pages for hospitalizations, COVID-19 cases, vaccines and wastewater monitoring will continue to be provided.
- Tabular data will continue to be provided on the Data Behind the Dashboards page.
- Data on positive tests as a percent of total tests will be available on the Data Behind the Dashboards page. (Reminder: This metric does not include results from at-home tests, which are becoming more and more widely used.)
- Case data will continue to be reported weekly by date of specimen collection. Note the "Cases" metric that will appear on the Summary dashboard through March 23 has been "New Cases Reported Since Yesterday."
- North Carolina COVID-19 Metrics will be removed from the COVID-19 homepage at covid19.ncdhhs.gov. Data on key metrics will be tracked weekly on the Summary page of the NCDHHS COVID-19 Dashboard
- County Transmission Data — information on COVID-19 community levels will be redirected to the CDC’s Covid-19 Community Levels data and tracked weekly.
- The Contact Tracing webpage, including data on Contact Tracers Hired will no longer be available.