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Illinois adopts new federal guidelines for reporting COVID-19 data

(Associated Press)
Published: Apr. 12, 2022 at 3:30 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - The Illinois Department of Public Health reported Tuesday it is adopting new federal guidelines for tracking COVID-19 at the community level.

IDPH reports the new CDC guidelines emphasize the case rate and hospitalizations in order to better track the prevalence of COVID-19 in communities. As a result of these new guidelines, testing providers will no longer be required to report some negative tests, and IDPH will therefore no longer report test and case positivity.

In addition to adopting new CDC guidelines, IDPH reported it is bolstering the data on its COVID-19 dashboard to provide additional information to help communities respond to changes in the course of the virus.

  • Among the new data that has been or will be shared on the IDPH COVID-19 dashboard are the following:
  • Updated data on vaccination rates to reflect the full population eligible as eligibility continues to evolve.
  • The number of people admitted to the hospital with a COVID-19 diagnosis.
  • More detailed data on hospitalizations, including information about vaccination status in those who are hospitalized.

“Test and case positivity rates were seen as a good way to monitor the level of community spread early in the pandemic,” said IDPH Acting Director Amaal Tokars. “At this stage, now that we have vaccines and effective therapies available, it is more useful to rely on data that indicates the case rate, disease severity and the level of strain on health care system to guide our public health recommendations.”

The changes adopted by the CDC mean that states will no longer be required to report negative antigen test (rapid test) results – and are only required to report negative PCR and NAAT (Nucleic Acid Amplification Test) results that were performed in certified labs. In addition, the widespread use of at-home tests means that national testing data is not as comprehensive or representative of population-based testing as it was before the introduction of at-home tests.

The CDC announced in March that it is relying on these three metrics to determine the community level of COVID-19 and to classify it as low, medium or high:

  • Total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past seven days.
  • New COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population in the past seven days.
  • The percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.

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