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COVID mitigation strategy launches for communities

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), has launched new data, designed to give Wisconsinites a better picture of the impact of COVID-19 in the state, what the trends in cases mean and how to most effectively respond to this virus. In tandem with this data update, the DHS also released guidance on mitigation strategies for communities.

“Giving Wisconsinites accurate information about the status of COVID-19 in their communities, is critically important to stopping the spread of this virus in our state,” said Gov. Tony Evers. “That’s why I’m so pleased DHS is launching new data dashboards to better assess COVID-19 disease activity and related hospital capacity.”

New data enhancements and updates include local data, where the DHS launched enhanced local data that provides an easy way to find local data, and to compare metrics across locations and over time, with disease activity and hospital capacity metrics.

Disease activity leads with the COVID-19 case activity levels, which track changes in confirmed COVID-19 numbers, as well as levels of COVID-19-like illness (CLI) and influenza-like illness (ILI) in emergency departments. Each activity level is supplemented with the overall trends to provide a more complete picture of COVID-19 in a community.

Activity levels are categorized as low, medium, high or very high, to help with interpretation. The addition of a “very high” level helps target those areas of highest concern, under conditions where widespread community transmission is already the norm across much of the state.

Hospital capacity helps track the impact of COVID-19 on the regional healthcare system. It shows trends in COVID-19 hospitalizations and current use of hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators.

This guidance is intended to provide local and tribal health departments, and leaders in their communities, another tool to help them make decisions regarding disease mitigation. The decision process detailed in the guidance focuses on disease activity and hospital capacity metrics, as well as communityspecifi c considerations.

In dealing with cases among school-age children, the data breaks down confirmed COVID-19 cases by youth age group or school-aged children. It includes those under age three, four to eight years old, nine to 13 years-old, and 14-17 years old.

“One of our priorities, since the beginning of this COVID- 19 pandemic, has been to ensure local and tribal health departments, have the tools they need to most effectively respond to this crisis,” said DHS secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “These data enhancements give us additional information to protect our frontline healthcare workers, our most vulnerable neighbors and the capacity of our healthcare system more broadly.”