What Data Should You Be Following to Understand COVID-19 in North Carolina?
Over the past few weeks, there has been a lot of focus on COVID-19 data reporting inconsistencies. From the get-go, we’ve said that focusing our efforts on examining the seven-day rolling averages would allow us to cut through the noise of daily data drops. Focusing on that metric allows us to see the ongoing trends, while also allowing us to look beyond any data concerns (like daily test numbers increasing or decreasing because of lab reporting errors).
What the seven-day rolling averages are showing us now that despite slight increases last week, the percent of positive tests has dropped back down to levels it was at earlier in the summer. The seven-day rolling average of the daily death counts remains in the 20s or high teens. We’ll continue to update you on these statistics as the pandemic continues so you have the best data at your fingertips.
On a daily basis, we’re being flooded with information and data about new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19. We need to listen and watch the signals that data tells us while also tuning out the noise.
To do that, there are two key metrics to watch:
· The seven-day rolling average of the percentage of new positive COVID-19 tests
· The seven-day rolling average of daily death numbers
We’re committed to using clearly sourced data, no matter what story they tell us — good, bad, or ugly. We need to watch it all so you can make informed decisions about returning to school or visiting loved ones who are at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19.
The graphs below help cut through the noise of the daily headlines talking about “records” or “increased cases.” We need to know what the state is facing without the noise of social media. Just the facts.
Seven-day rolling average of the percentage of new positive COVID-19 tests
Why is this important? This number gives us a signal of how the virus is spreading in North Carolina. It’s a clear way for us to understand the trends of positive cases in the state while cutting through the headlines about increased testing.
NOTE: On Aug. 12, NCDHHS announced that 221,444 tests were mistakenly added to the total of North Carolina’s tests. The tests did not impact the total number of positive tests but did impact the cumulative total of tests conducted. After doing an analysis of the corrected data and what had previously been reported, the 7-day rolling average did not shift substantially. That is one of the reasons why the 7-day rolling average is such an important metric. It allows us to see beyond any mistakes in the data.
Seven-day rolling average of daily death numbers
Why is this important? Watching this number gives us a sense of just how lethal the virus strain is and whether our efforts are helping or hurting. This, at times, can be a lagging indicator as deaths take time to be reported and investigated. According to DHHS, death data for the last two weeks may not be reported yet, which is data for that time period can fluctuate.
This data will continue to change as the pandemic continues. That means we’ll continue to update these stats as we go along and add additional metrics we think are important. Please check back here a couple of times a week to see where North Carolina stands. If you have other key indicators that you’re watching, please share and let us know.