Active COVID cases removed from state dashboard

Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 7:20 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - An update to the Texas Department of State Health Services dashboard has changed the way COVID-19 cases are displayed. The most noticeable change being active cases removed from the data tools.

Chris Van Deusen, a spokesperson for DSHS said this decision was made for multiple reasons. The active cases were removed in part because they were estimates based on research from early in the pandemic on the proportion of people who required hospitalization and the length of time it took hospitalized and non-hospitalized people to resolve their symptoms.

At the start of the pandemic in 2020, the CDC recommended that people infected with COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days. Now, the CDC says people with COVID-19 should isolate for five days, and if they’re asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving, they can come out of quarantine if they wear a mask.

Van Duesen said with recent changes in the virus, and the timeline of recovery changes, that the resulting calculations aren’t accurate anymore. He adds that the state now knows that just because a person is no longer showing symptoms, doesn’t mean they are not still contagious.

Right now, the Waco McLennan County Public Health District is still reporting active cases on its dashboard, using a formula from the start of the pandemic.

“We use the 10 day estimate and that’s either based on if we know the date of the onset of symptoms or the date of the test its always a very rough estimate of cases,” Stephanie Alvey with the Waco McLennan County Public Health District explained.

She says epidemiologists there are also considering the best way to present the data, given the latest changes with the Omicron variant.

“Speaking with our epidemiologists, [removing active cases from the dashboard] is something we are considering as well. [Active cases] weren’t always the best representation of the disease burden in the community at that particular point in time,” Alvey said.

“There’s never been an active case true definition,” she added.

Van Duesen says the state also had difficulty assigning active cases to a specific year, which was another factor for removing the stat, along with the fact that there are no longer any state executive orders that rely on active or recovered cases.

Instead, he and Alvey say new cases reported over the previous seven days provide a more reliable indicator of the pandemic’s effects on communities and how the burden is changing.

“Case numbers go up and down so much every day that the seven day average is the best indicator to show a trend,” Alvey said.

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