Mon, Sep 18, 2023 1:07 PM
By Spencer Pauley, The Center Square
The Washington State Department of Health on Monday announced the retirement of its COVID-19 dashboard, with a replacement that shows data about multiple respiratory illnesses.
The department’s new respiratory illness data dashboard still tracks COVID-19 activity, but it also documents flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, disease activity by region across the state.
“We hope the new respiratory illness data dashboard will inform communities and help guide their personal decision making on prevention measures such as masks and social distancing,” Washington State Department of Health Chief Science Officer Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett said in a news release.
Kwan-Gett recommended that people be up to date on vaccinations and stay home when sick to protect themselves and others from the impacts of the COVID-19 virus, as well as the flu an RSV.
“We all need to do our part to reduce the chance that our healthcare system could be overwhelmed by respiratory illnesses in the coming months,” Kwan-Gett added.
The inclusion of data from previous years is a new feature of the health department's latest data dashboard. It is meant to provide the public with clearer comparisons between current disease activity and that of years past.
With summer coming to an end in less than a week, flu season will soon begin.
On the COVID-19 front, however, there is some good news: data shows the virus is not as much of a threat to the public as in recent years.
According to the most recent data, 2.6% of total hospitalizations in the state were COVID-19 related between Sept. 3 and Sept. 9. During a similar time frame two years ago – Sept. 5 through Sept. 11 – 13.1% of total hospitalizations were related to COVID-19.
There were no cases of hospitalizations from RSV in the same time span this year. There was only one case of someone taking up an intensive care unit bed due to the flu.
The dashboard will be updated weekly through April 2024. Any subsequent updates are contingent upon the degree of ongoing COVID-19 activity, according to the department.