At least nine states have cut back on daily COVID-19 reports providing information on new cases, hospitalizations and deaths, New York Times reported March 19th.
States are cutting back on daily reports staggered for reporting data either once a week or twice a week. Arizona, Hawaii, Kentucky, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and the District of Columbia are among those that switch to weekly reports, while Wyoming now reports data twice a week. Public health officials expect more states will soon cut back on the daily COVID-19 reports.
“We have moved to a place where we do not need to know the absolute numbers,” Marcus Plescia, MD, chief physician of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, which represents the public health authorities in all 50 states, said Times. “We can still monitor trends for people being tested in public environments. We still have a good sense of where the absolute numbers are going.”
Some experts have said that measurements such as hospitalizations, vaccination rates and wastewater monitoring are more valuable at this point in the pandemic than the number of cases, and that a shift from daily COVID-19 reports will better enable state health departments to focus on these measures.
Other experts are concerned that COVID-19 data reporting cuts could affect response times to future increases.
“Infectious diseases like SARS-CoV-2 are moving very fast, and therefore we need to respond quickly to early signs of increasing cases or a new variant,” said Sam Scarpino, PhD, CEO of Pathogen Surveillance at Rockefeller Foundation’s Pandemic Prevention. Institute in New York City. “Early action prevents school closures, masks mandates and saves lives. But if we wait days, weeks or months for the new data, it’s hard to see the signals fast enough,” he told Times.
The daily average for new cases in the United States is still declining. On March 20, that number was 29,905 according to data from Times.