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Arizona changes COVID-19 data dashboard from daily to weekly

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 7:50 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Starting next week, on March 2, the state’s COVID-19 data dashboard will change its reporting from daily to once a week.

It will be updated every Wednesday going forward.

“Now that we’re coming down off of that giant spike, it makes more sense to switch to weekly frequency, said Jessica Rigler, the Assistant Director the Arizona Department of Health Services. “We will continue to report the same metrics we have been, it’s just the frequency that’s changing.”

The COVID data dashboard has been an important tool for schools, business, hospitals, health departments and the media for the past two years, updating the number of cases, hospitalizations, deaths and vaccinations every day.

It was a massive undertaking with 25 to 30 data scientists, specialists and web strategists working on it seven days a week to keep the community updated.

But at times, it could be confusing. For example, the case rate and the death rate were not complementary. The case rate would spike but the death rate would lag behind for at least a month. Both were popular measurements gauging the severity of the spike.

“We’re building more of a lag right now in how we’ll be reporting moving forward,” Rigler said. “So we’ll be reporting weekly but there will be a four week lag in how we’re reporting deaths.”

The weekly reporting will also benefit hospitals which were strained trying to keep up with the high volume of data they were producing every day for the dashboard.

“Daily reporting is a significant burden on them and their staff as well in addition to what they’re doing everyday to take care of patients,” she said. “We’ve been working with them to make these changes which is welcome news to that community.”

The state also believes it will not hamper its ability to spot trends and respond to them quickly.

Daily reporting can be affected by the weekends or holidays. A day might have 20,000 or more cases and the next day at least 8,000.

“The variance we see from a Monday to a Tuesday isn’t very instructive to see what the trends are,” Rigler said. “But that weekly view is going to be more reliable to establish trends.”

It also gives the data scientists time to digest the data and look for potential errors before posting it on the dashboard.

“To give a couple of extra days to make sure the duplicate cases are merged together and cases are assigned to the right county and hospitalizations are matched with the appropriate laboratory report to get better hospital data are all things that are possible now,” she said.

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