Covid-19/ Resources

Tracking COVID-19 in the United States

From Information Catastrophe to Empowered Communities

The use of accurate, real-time data to inform decision-making is essential for infectious disease control. Unlike many other countries, the United States does not have standard, national data on COVID-19. The US also lacks standards for state-, county- and city- level public reporting of this life-and-death information. We  identified 15 essential indicators, and evaluated COVID-19 data dashboards for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Read the complete report:
Tracking COVID-19 in the United States: From Information Catastrophe to Empowered Communities

Essential information

For US States to report immediately

Indicator Stratification1 Suggested target
1 New confirmed and probable cases and per capita rates by date2 with 7-day moving average Age, sex, race, ethnicity & zip code Outbreaks vs. community Decreasing over 14 days or at low level3
2 Percentage of new cases epidemiologically linked to at least one other case, stratified by whether part of known outbreak or not, with threshold4 Age, sex, race & ethnicity Outbreaks vs. community >80%1
3 New screening (e.g. antigen) and diagnostic (e.g. PCR) testing per capita rates by date, with threshold, with 7-day moving average Age, sex, race & ethnicity >1.5 tests/1,000/day5
4 Percentage of screening (e.g. antigen) and diagnostic (e.g. PCR) tests positive by date, with threshold, with 7-day moving average Age, sex, race & ethnicity <3% positivity
5 CLI and ILI trends from emergency departments6 At or below adjusted baseline, declining
6 COVID-19 daily hospitalization per capita rates and 7-day moving average Age, sex, race & ethnicity Decreasing or low level
7 Percentage of licensed beds occupied by suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients Low proportion (<10%)
8 List (to extent legally permissible in State) of long-term care and other congregate facilities (homeless shelters, correctional facilities), and essential workplace (e.g. meatpacking) outbreaks with COVID-19 cases and deaths in residents and staff7 Cumulative and most recent week Low level of cases
Outbreaks, if any, rapidly detected and stopped
9 New COVID-19 confirmed and probable deaths and per capita rates with 7-day moving average Age, sex, race, ethnicity & zip code Outbreaks vs. community Decreasing over 14 days or at low level

Additional essential information

For US States to report

Indicator Stratification1 Suggested target
10 Diagnostic (e.g. PCR) test turnaround time (specimen collection to test report), by week Age, sex, race & ethnicity Median ≤ 48 hours and a high and increasing proportion <24 hours
11 Time from specimen collection to isolation of cases, by week Age, sex, race & ethnicity >80% within 48 hours8
12 Percentage of cases interviewed for contact elicitation within 48 hours of case specimen collection, including all people with positive tests who reside in the jurisdiction, by week Age, sex, race & ethnicity >80%8
13 Percentage of new cases from among quarantined contacts, by week Outbreaks vs. community >50%8
14 New infections among health care workers not confirmed to have been contracted outside of the workplace, by week Age, sex, race & ethnicity 0
15 Percentage of people wearing masks correctly in public indoor settings (e.g., mass transit, shopping), based on direct observation or security camera analysis, by a standard, consistent method, by week >80%
  1. Should be reported weekly and cumulative
  2. Confirmed cases should be reported by date of specimen collection when possible, or date of report or symptom onset if not possible. Probable cases should be reported by date of report; jurisdictions reporting by date of specimen collection should also provide information on date of report for inter-state comparability, until all states are reporting by date of specimen collection.
  3. Such as below 10 cases per 100,000 population over 2 weeks (CDC)
  4. If not reported, assume none linked to existing known source
  5. Target applies to each major racial and ethnic group separately (Black, Hispanic/ Latinx, American Indian/Native American, White, Asian/PI)
  6. All states, and counties/cities/regions wherever feasible
  7. Aggregate numbers until specifics legally allowed to be reported, if there are current restrictions
  8. If not reported, assume not done or zero

Endorsing Organizations

Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health American Public Health Association Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security Trust for Americas Health