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High case count prompts DHSS to remove statistic from coronavirus dashboard

Alaska's COVID-19 Case Dashboard on Nov. 18, 2020.
Alaska's COVID-19 Case Dashboard on Nov. 18, 2020.(Alaska DHSS)
Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 5:47 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Citing the large number of new positive cases of COVID-19 and the manual verification required to provide real-time numbers, the state’s COVID-19 dashboard stopped showing the number of active and recovered cases Tuesday.

“The manual verification required to determine recovered and active cases is unable to maintain real-time numbers and have been removed rather than reflecting outdated information,” the dashboard’s updated FAQ section states.

Cases can be considered “recovered” 20 days after the onset, the Department of Health and Social Services says.

In a public Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes meeting Wednesday, the chief of Public Health Nursing for DHSS said that about 350 people from seven organizations are working on contact tracing efforts, and added that that team is growing.

“Because of the case count acceleration, we are still not able to keep up with the daily calls to everyone, so we are continuing to push out information on the state website to better inform individuals that have tested positive on different steps that they can take immediately to protect themselves and their close contacts,” Tim Struna, chief of Public Health Nursing said.

Although the lag created by the volume of cases prompted the removal of one statistic, the dashboard does have a new feature that shows the date of specimen collection.

“You’re seeing a lot of data or a lot of cases just really stacked up on the date of report, and what we did in the last day or so was to add in the person’s specimen collection date,” said Louisa Castrodale with DHSS. “So what you can see is actually the epicurve can kind of backdate a little bit and we can get a much better and a more accurate sense of when people were getting sick, as opposed to you guys seeing the arbitrary ‘we were able to enter 560 cases’ or ‘we were able to enter 640 cases.’ You can get a much better idea of when people were getting infected and how that changes regionally.”

Wednesday reported 551 new COVID-19 cases in the state.

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