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It’s time to rethink how to best bring you relevant COVID-19 data.

Last week, we reported 84 new COVID-19 cases in Pierce County on Monday. Then, on Tuesday, we reported 124 cases. Wednesday, it was 182.

Ask yourself: Did those numbers tell you anything useful?

Each new case means the virus has spread still-further in our community. Each new hospitalization places more stress on our system. And each new death is a tragedy—most often, a preventable one.

We want to share information you can use and act on. The daily reporting of cases, hospitalizations and deaths is consistent—and slowly improving—but it’s not offering much that helps you navigate life with COVID-19.

The pandemic isn’t over. We need to do more as a community to get people vaccinated, reduce the number of cases, decrease the burden on our hospital systems, keep kids in schools and keep businesses open.

That’s why it’s time to rethink our reporting.

Our goal is always to provide reliable, actionable data.

We began reporting COVID-19 data nearly 2 years ago, in March 2020. At the time, you wanted the basics: how the new disease was spreading, who it was affecting, and who was most at risk.

As time went on, we and the state used data to decide what measures we needed to take to keep you as safe as possible. We added more metrics and dashboards to keep you informed.

Over time, providing these numbers daily has become less meaningful. Our epidemiologists are so busy providing all this data every day, they don’t have much time to respond to new questions and analyze trends that tell us where we are and where we’re headed.

A new focus for the next stage.

We’ll report most data once a week. We organized it into 3 buckets:

  • Tuesday: Cases, deaths, hospitalizations and demographics.
  • Wednesday: Vaccines.
  • Thursday: Outbreaks, including schools, businesses and long-term care facilities.

You’ll notice some changes to this reporting. Our graph of cases will show weekly counts instead of daily counts, for instance. That will provide a cleaner look at trends over time.

And we’re now going to report cases based on the day people were tested rather than the day labs reported the result to us. Sometimes, labs get backed up and send in a large batch of cases spanning days, weeks or even months. Telling you when people tested positive will give you a more accurate look at the spread of COVID-19 over time.

We’ve also removed some metrics that have grown less useful and streamlined others. You can still find most of this data on the state’s dashboard, which is embedded on our page.

Room to bring you more useful numbers.

You’ll see us roll out these changes starting Friday, when we’ll report a daily death toll for the last time. Monday, Dec. 6, you’ll see our final daily case count.

We’ll begin our new reporting schedule Tuesday, Dec. 14. You’ll also see our team investing time not spent on daily updates to bring you more useful stories! Last week, we brought you breakthrough data for the first time. And we plan to dive deep often on data stories that help you understand what’s happening in Pierce County.

We’ll also be able to zoom out and tell you about trends. How did this week’s cases compare to the last several weeks, for instance? Are we in a new wave or are case rates smoothing out? Are hospitals filling up again or is the pressure easing?

Hope for the day we can stop reporting on COVID-19.

COVID-19 isn’t going to disappear any time soon. But as we learn to live with it, we can find new ways to look at it and learn about it.

And we can all take steps to bring this to an end. Most important: Make sure your family is vaccinated. Everyone age 5 and older is eligible. You can find a dose at tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture.

If you need a ride to an appointment or can’t easily leave your home, we can help! Call us at (253) 649-1412, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. We’ll return messages left over the weekend the next business day.

And you can do even more to help stop the spread of COVID-19:

As always, we’ll continue to think through our approach to make sure we’re bringing you the data and insights you need. Stay up to date with our work by subscribing to the Your Reliable Source blog.