LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Monday, Nebraska revived the version of its COVID-19 dashboard that it last implemented on Oct. 21.
That means the dashboard will again be updated daily. It also includes 14-day COVID-19 case information for each of Nebraska's 93 counties. Also back is demographic, age, and gender-specific information that breaks down case, vaccination and death information by each.
The dashboard now includes information on the flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), too.
Gov. Pete Ricketts said the move comes after the amount of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the state again rose above 10% of the state's hospital capacity in a 7-day average. Ricketts announced he issued a new executive order to allow the changes.
When the dashboard was weakened last month, Dr. James Lawler, who specializes in infectious diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, told KMTV that metric is "incredibly arbitrary."
"The proportion of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients reflects only a part of the overall burden on the health system," Lawler said.
The original dashboard was taken down on June 30 and replaced by short weekly, statewide updates. The new, hospital-capacity-focused dashboard launched on Sept. 20.
Information on variants of COVID-19 is available in the weekly data update.
3 News Now Investigators obtained COVID-19 hospitalization data from when Nebraska lacked a COVID-19 dashboard
Because no regional coronavirus data was available after Nebraska ended its original coronavirus dashboard on June 30, and before a dashboard was put in place again on Sept. 20, 3 News Now Investigators submitted a public records request to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for coronavirus data.
Our original request was filed Aug. 27, before the dashboard was reinstated.
The data we received Wednesday includes weekly hospitalization data for that period by the local health district. 3 News Now Investigators believe case and death data, and more specific county and daily data, may be releasable and is still in discussion with DHHS.
"I think it certainly could help provide some additional context to trends," Lawler said, "And that idea of information always being a good thing. I think that also applies to retrospective data that helps you put current data in better context."
DHHS provided the following explanation for possible negative values in the PUI field:
Because the federal HHS requirements ask for two fields: "Confirmed and Suspected COVID Inpatients” and “Confirmed COVID Inpatients”. If a facility has confirmed patients they should put a value in both fields. To find the number of PUI (Person Under Inspection) we have to subtract the two. What happens is that a facility only puts a value in the “Confirmed COVID Inpatients” column. If you take 0 and subtract anything from it you’ll get a negative number.
The link to the HHS requirements is at https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/covid-19-faqs-hospitals-hospital-laboratory-acute-care-facility-data-reporting.pdf.
Questions 9 & 10 cover this (as it is split between adult and pediatric. We report on what the hospitals provide and don’t manipulate for any situations.