RICHMOND, VA — The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) launched a new Pandemic Metrics Dashboard, which shows a visualization of COVID-19 community transmission by region. Updated weekly, this dashboard will show: data trends for COVID-19 in specific communities; where the COVID-19 virus is spreading; and assist local and state governments in determining additional mitigation measures.
“Communities across the Commonwealth are facing different challenges as we all continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Virginia State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A. “This pandemic dashboard provides data for communities to individualize and tailor response efforts to local needs. A community where cases are surging and hospital beds are filling up, for example, will require different response efforts from those in a community where cases are declining and hospital occupancy is low.”
A CDC School Metrics tab will also be available within the dashboard. This tab uses metrics described by the CDC to guide decisions by school officials, taking into consideration the school’s ability to implement and adhere to key mitigation strategies to decrease transmission of COVID-19. VDH recommends local government and school officials work with local health districts to evaluate epidemiologic and other data to assess the extent of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) transmission within their region, its effect on the Commonwealth, and the ability of the healthcare system to function. These data should then be interpreted within the context of the local jurisdiction. VDH recommends that decisions to alter K-12 school programming, including decisions about in-person instruction, school dismissals or closures be handled at the most local level possible, considering both regional and local epidemiology, community characteristics, and local capacity.
“On behalf of the commonwealth’s 132 school divisions, I thank the Virginia Department of Health for making this dashboard available as a resource to inform local decision making to help schools navigate how and when to consider in-person, hybrid and virtual instruction,” Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said.
The education setting outbreaks dashboard will include aggregate outbreak data that breaks out the current “Educational” category of outbreaks for K-12, childcare and higher education setting sub-categories.
These dashboards will help communities measure the extent to which the COVID-19 virus is spreading in their localities and guide possible responses to mitigate that spread. However, each community is unique and appropriate mitigation strategies should consider the impact to the community and be based on the best available data. Decisions will vary on how and when to increase community mitigation and the following information is intended to guide decisions.