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Department of Public Health to change COVID-19 data reporting

The Biden administration has announced a new investment in at-home COVID tests. Here, an Abbott BinaxNow test.
WCBU
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AP
With the increased availability and usage of at-home COVID-19 testing kits that go unreported, public health officials say they no longer can provide an accurate sense of testing and positivity.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Tuesday that Illinois’ COVID-19 data reporting is changing to align with the CDC’s updated guidelines, which emphasize the case rates and hospitalizations as the most accurate metrics to track the virus.

With the increased availability and usage of at-home COVID-19 testing kits that go unreported, public health officials say they no longer can provide an accurate sense of testing and positivity. Because of this, IDPH will no longer report the number of tests performed or case positivity rates.

The IDPH COVID-19 dashboard will also add new data to its reports, including vaccination rates of the total eligible population as eligibility changes, and the vaccination status of those hospitalized with COVID-19.

The dashboard will continue to show risk levels by county across the state, using the CDC’s guidelines to determine risk of community spread as low, medium, or high. The metrics used in these determinations include new COVID-19 cases reported, new COVID-19 hospitalizations, and percentage of hospital beds occupied by patients admitted for COVID-19.

As of April 13, four counties are rated as having a high level of community spread: Gallatin, Saline, Pope, and Hardin. All other counties in Illinois remain at medium risk.

During Tuesday’s announcement, IDPH officials said there are no plans to bring back a mask mandate unless community spread increases. IDPH and the CDC recommend that all those eligible receive their COVID-19 vaccination and eligible booster shots to mitigate community spread.

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Maggie Strahan is a graduate student in the Public Affairs Reporting program at the University of Illinois.