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The state has added a number of new charts, graphs and other data points to its online COVID-19 dashboard, greatly increasing the amount of information publicly available to Nevadans.
Some of those new graphs are just new ways to visualize data that was already available — like three new charts displaying how many people were tested on a given day, how many tested positive and how many people died — but others are entirely new, and answer some pressing questions about the coronavirus pandemic in Nevada.
The charts featuring new information — there’s three of them — pertain to the growth rates of Nevada’s COVID-19 cases and related deaths, hospitalizations and capacity, and the state’s cumulative positivity rate.
But what does all this new information mean, and why’s it important?
The Reno Gazette Journal asked the Nevada Health Alliance to explain the new information on its dashboard. Kyra Morgan, Nevada’s state biostatistician, sent an explanation of the new data.
Daily growth rate (tab six)
Wondering how quickly COVID-19 is spreading in Nevada? This tab on the dashboard is for you.
These two charts, one for cases and one for deaths, represent the amount cases and deaths have grown over time.
“The growth rate of COVID-19 may change over time due to actual changes in the growth, or for reasons such as implementation of new testing strategies or changes to control measures that are in place,” Morgan wrote in an email to the RGJ.
As the state works to slow the growth of the virus, progress can be seen in these charts.
Confirmed and suspected COVID-19 hospitalizations (tab seven)
These charts, fueled by data from the Nevada Hospital Association, shows how taxed the state’s healthcare system is by COVID-19.
This data, specifically if the trend of hospitalizations is decreasing, was one of the metrics used by the governor’s office to determine if the state could move into phase 1 of reopening.
Ventilator use, the number of COVID-19 patients currently in the ICU and day-over-day changes in hospitalizations are also measured here.
Hospitalizations, ICU bed use and ventilator use all were on a relatively downward trajectory, but appear to be trending back up as of May 9, the day phase 1 reopening began.
It’s not clear what metrics will be used to determine if the state is ready for phase 2 of reopening, though Gov. Steve Sisolak said phase 1 would likely last until the end of the month.
Test positivity rate (tab eight)
Another metric the governor’s office used to enter phase 1 of reopening, a chart measuring Nevada’s test positivity rate is now available on the Nevada Health Alliance dashboard.
This chart shows the percentage of people who tested positive on a given day out of the total number of people tested that day.
“In general, if a high percentage of tests are coming back positive, that is indicative that there are many more cases that have gone undetected,” Morgan explained.
Right now, this chart paints a good picture of Nevada’s fight against COVID-19.
“Nevada’s data shows that as we expand testing, the test positivity rate goes down,” Morgan wrote. “We have seen a significant decline in this measure since April 25.”
The chart also compares Nevada’s positivity rate against the maximum positivity rate recommended by the World Health Organization before an area reopens.
Nevada dipped below the WHO’s maximum recommended rate of 10 percent for the first time on May 11.
Visit dhcfp.nv.gov/covid19/ and click on the “COVID-19 Data Dashboard” link to see the dashboard.
Sam Gross is a breaking news reporter for the Reno Gazette Journal who covers wildfires, emergencies and more. Support his work by subscribing to RGJ.com.
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