DDPHE Blog: COVID-19 Data: Then and Now
Published on November 16, 2023
In 2020, the City and County of Denver, along with the rest of the world, experienced the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. With the acute phase of the pandemic in our rearview, the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) has transitioned to managing COVID-19 like other endemic respiratory illnesses such as the flu and RSV. As a result of city-wide vaccination efforts, fewer people are getting sick, and even fewer of those who do get sick are being hospitalized or dying.
In the endemic phase of COVID-19, the ways in which we collect and analyze data has also changed. In November 2023, DDPHE updated and streamlined our COVID-19 dashboards to better reflect the current state of COVID-19 in Denver.
Why do COVID-19 data dashboards look different than before?
The new dashboards better reflect the information DDPHE is currently collecting about COVID-19 in our community. The previous dashboards from the pandemic phase are archived and will remain available for everyone to see. Continue reading to learn more about how DDPHE is reporting on COVID-19 data.
How has COVID-19 data changed?
Our data sources have not changed. The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) shares the required COVID-19 data collected from all laboratories and healthcare settings across the City and County of Denver.
Because of the way testing has changed, we must interpret and view COVID-19 differently from the pandemic phase. Looking at how many tests are completed, how many people get a positive result from tests, and how many cases are reported by medical facilities in total gives us a better picture of the spread of the virus in our community.
How has testing for COVID-19 changed?
Compared to the beginning of the pandemic, Denverites now have more access and are encouraged to use at-home COVID-19 tests. Therefore, PRC testing administered at medical facilities has decreased. Self-administered tests at home are not required to be reported, so it is impossible to know the extent of t all the COVID-19 testing occurring in the community like during the acute phase of pandemic. As a result of these changes, we face challenges with interpreting testing numbers. We are able to count the tests reported by healthcare facilities and centers like doctors’ offices, but not the tests taken at home. While our exact count of COVID-19 looks lower than it likely is, we continue to utilize the available data to track general disease trends in the community.
COVID-19 reporting continues to be mandatory in specific healthcare and community settings like schools, daycares, jails, hospitals, and shelters for people experiencing homelessness. All positive COVID-19 tests must be reported to the local public health department within four working days by laboratories and healthcare providers. However, at-home tests or self-administered home tests are not required to be reported unless a provider is made aware of the positive tests. To learn more about how to report COVID-19 cases, please visit COVID-19 Reporting Requirements.
How has vaccination for COVID-19 changed?
DDPHE recommends everyone ages 6 months and up get the updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect against serious illness. Additional vaccination resources can be found on the DDPHE COVID-19 vaccination webpage.
In the pandemic phase of COVID-19, it was useful to track how many people overall had been vaccinated against the virus. Now, as seasonal vaccines have become the norm, it’s more useful to track how many people got their shots in the last 3 months, 6 months, and the past year. This represents the population with the strongest immunity protecting the community against COVID-19 spread.
Still have questions?
DDPHE team members are available to answer any additional questions you might have about COVID-19 data. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.