Hawai‘i Department of Health announces new metrics to better track and manage the pandemic

Posted on Aug 5, 2020 in Newsroom

HONOLULU – With the high number of positive COVID-19 cases in the state, the Hawai‘i Department of Health will be introducing new metrics to assist in decision-making and to better track and manage the disease with a higher degree of accountability, announced Health Director Dr. Bruce Anderson. The new metrics will augment existing metrics to assess the impact of policy changes and as a way for policymakers and the public to track the course of the outbreak.

The Department of Health will use these metrics to enhance the current dashboard to effectively evaluate the four pillars of the public health response: prevention, detection, containment and treatment. They will be updated daily or weekly, depending on the specific metric, and be posted on HawaiiCOVID19.com, the website created specifically for information on the pandemic for easier access and navigation.

“The Department of Health has been monitoring most of these measures since the beginning of the pandemic, such as the response time for contact tracing and the percentage of laboratory results that are positive. We have also been closely monitoring hospital capacity, including the number of hospital beds that are filled with COVID patients on any given day, said Anderson.

“The combination of all of these tools and evaluating them together will enable us to make better decisions,” said Anderson, noting the enhanced metrics were selected during meetings with district health officers and the counties led by Dr. Janet Berreman, DOH’s Kaua‘i district health officer. “This is not just an academic exercise. The accessibility of this information on a public dashboard allows us to clearly see how well we are dealing with this pandemic, helps others understand why decisions are made, and holds all of us to a higher standard.”

The prevention-related metrics will track disease activity in Hawai‘i compared with other states and monitor implementation and compliance with safe practices. This will include metrics relating to face mask compliance. Prevention will also focus on food establishment enforcement metrics, including the number of complaints received on food establishments and the number of red placards that are issued.

In addition to continuing to track the “epidemiological curve,” or cases per day over time by county and sources of exposure, detection-related metrics will include the number of tests completed and the percent of positive cases of those tested, and sources of exposure.

Metrics relating to containment will include the percent of positive cases and contacts who are interviewed within 24 hours, the number of individuals and capacity of isolation and quarantine facilities, and laboratory testing turn-around time.

In collaboration with the Healthcare Association of Hawai‘i and hospital partners, the DOH will continue to monitor hospital capacity, including acute care bed occupancy by day and county for COVID-19 positive cases, intensive care unit bed occupancy and ventilator use by COVID patients.

These metrics are especially important now as the number of COVID-19 cases have continued to climb rapidly over the past few weeks in Hawai‘i and elsewhere in the country. The escalating disease rate may potentially require the state to resume tighter controls and restrictions to prevent the spread of the disease. This will be especially important as Hawai‘i prepares for the opening of schools and, potentially, the welcoming of trans-Pacific travelers.

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