This morning at nine, we’ll be updating our COVID-19 data dashboard. Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be changing how they display data about cases and deaths on their dashboard, and ADHS will be changing ours to reflect this update. On our summary page, we will be breaking out confirmed and probable cases and deaths for COVID-19. Both confirmed and probable cases and deaths are included in our overall case and death count.
On the Summary section of our dashboard, we will display information about the total number of cases, as well as the breakdown by confirmed and probable cases. The view on this website will still show the information about the total number of cases and deaths of COVID-19 in Arizona, but when you hover your mouse over the number of cases or deaths in the Summary section, the breakdown will appear. In the same Summary section, clicking on a county of interest will filter the results in the summary boxes by county.
A confirmed case is defined as a case with a positive diagnostic test (PCR) reported to public health. A probable case is a case that doesn’t have a confirmatory diagnostic test but meets certain criteria that allow public health to classify it as a case. These criteria can include a positive serology (antibody) test and symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or a symptomatic patient with no diagnostic test that is a close contact to a confirmed COVID-19 case. This is consistent with the national recommendations for COVID-19 surveillance and reporting introduced by the Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) and adopted by CDC. A small percentage of our total cases, approximately 1%, have been identified as probable cases.
A confirmed death is a death that has had a positive diagnostic (PCR) test reported to public health. A probable death is one that hasn’t had a positive diagnostic test but the physician cited a COVID-related cause as their cause of death. We started adding these deaths to our data counts at the beginning of May as a result of recent guidance by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) on how states should certify deaths due to COVID-19 using death certificate surveillance. Approximately 7% of Arizona’s deaths have been identified through this process.
It’s important to note that the classification of cases is a surveillance tool used to better understand the burden of disease in the community. While this distinction is important for public health professionals during our investigation, it does not change the clinical care these patients are provided or the diagnosis provided by their health care provider. Public health case classifications are used for all reportable communicable diseases, including COVID-19, and ADHS maintains a case definitions manual, updated annually in conjunction with CSTE and CDC updates, to document the criteria for these classifications. In the case of COVID-19, confirmed and probable cases are given the same public health guidance and recommendations and are asked to self-isolate to prevent the spread of disease.