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Dashboard Update Schedule

Data are updated Monday through Friday at 10:30am. If we experience a delay, data will be updated at 2:30pm. The dashboard will not be updated on observed holidays. Please see the Wisconsin Department of Health Services dashboard on those dates to see data.


Data Snapshot

Each week we share a data snapshot that highlights a few key data points from the week and updates our progress. We also publish a blog post each Thursday titled "Data Notes," which explains the trends and themes we're seeing. To get notification when a new blog is posted, subscribe on this page. You can find past blog posts there as well.


Dashboard Video Demo

In this video, we'll show you how to navigate the dashboard and make the most of the new features.


About the Dashboard Data

Abbreviations

American Indian or Alaska Native is abbreviated to AI/AN due to limited space.

Data Sources

  • Current COVID-19 inpatient hospitalizations and COVID-19 inpatients in the ICU: EMResource. EMResource is a tool that hospitals use to share information about hospital resources with agencies involved in emergency response planning, such as public health. Note that these data could include COVID-19 patients who are not Dane County residents, as hospitals located in Dane County may serve individuals who live in other counties, states, or countries.
  • People with COVID-19 and tests for COVID-19: The Wisconsin Electronic Disease Surveillance System (WEDSS). WEDSS is a web-based data collection system designed to facilitate reporting, investigation, and surveillance of communicable disease in Wisconsin, including COVID-19.
  • Vaccinations for COVID-19: Wisconsin Immunization Registry (WIR). WIR is a web-based data collection system used to record and track immunizations for Wisconsin residents. Note that vaccination data are not available to local health departments yet.

People with COVID-19

The total number of people with COVID-19 includes all Dane County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 via a PCR test that was reported to WEDSS, excluding the current day. People who test positive are only counted once, even if they have more than one positive test. Trends over time and time filters are based on the date of the first positive test result. Case counts are subject to change, especially for the most recent dates, as more results are reported to WEDSS and county of residence is updated after case interviews.

Probable people with COVID-19

We are not counting people who test positive with an antigen test at this time (probable cases), but hope to represent those people in the data soon.

Testing data

Trends over time and time filters are based on the date of the test result. Test numbers for recent dates are subject to change as tests continue to be reported and processed.

Recovered and Active Cases

We present the state health department’s definition of recovered cases, which is: the number of confirmed cases who are currently alive based on Wisconsin state vital records system data and had one or more of the following: Documentation of resolved symptoms, documentation of release from public health isolation, or 30 days since symptom onset or diagnosis. DHS data indicate that the majority of reported cases who recovered did so within 30 days. However, the time to full recovery varies from person to person. In some cases, more than 30 days were required to recover. As a result, a small number of cases who are still recovering might be included in the "recovered" category.

Active cases include COVID-19 cases who were diagnosed in the last 30 days, are not known to have died, and do not yet meet the definition of having recovered.

Percent Positive

Percent positive is calculated from the number of positive tests divided by the number of total tests for each day. If someone has more than one positive test, only their first positive test is counted in the numerator, but all tests are counted in the denominator. The denominator is total tests rather than total people tested because percent positivity is also an indicator of testing capacity. We want people, especially those in high-risk groups, to be tested more than once, and to include all those tests in our calculations to gauge the spread of COVID and to know whether enough testing is occurring. To learn more about how we calculate percent positivity, read our blog post.

COVID-19 Deaths

  • We include deaths among people diagnosed with COVID-19 via a PCR test that meet the vital records criteria set forth by the CDC and Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) case definition. Those are deaths that have a death certificate that lists COVID-19 disease or SARS-CoV-2 as an underlying cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death.
  • Deaths associated with COVID-19 must be reported by health care providers or medical examiners/coroners, and recorded in WEDSS by local health departments in order to be counted as a COVID-19 death.
  • Deaths among people with COVID-19 that were the result of non-COVID reasons (e.g., accident, overdose, etc.) are not included as a COVID-19 death. 
  • We are also including deaths in a hospital setting if the hospital clearly documents COVID-19 as a cause of deaths. We confirm these deaths via death certificate.A death does not appear on the dashboard until it is confirmed to be due to COVID-19 infection with a statistical death abstract; this can take days or even months. The deaths by month graph displays deaths by month of death among Dane County residents.
  • Death data should be considered preliminary due to reporting delays and potential changes to death data, which are generally finalized several months after the end of the year.

Percent change in new cases and hospitalizations over the past two weeks

This is the percent change in the total number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 in the current week compared to the week before. We exclude the previous 3 days of data for people diagnosed with COVID-19 due to the preliminary nature of recent dates.

Two week trend

We utilize the Wisconsin Department of Health Services methods for trajectory to determine whether the percent change in the number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 and the percent change in the number of inpatient hospitalizations from the previous to the current week is statistically significant. We categorize the trend as an increase, decrease, or stable trend with the definitions below:

  • Increase: the percent change in the number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 or inpatient hospitalizations is > 10% and the p-value based on Poisson regression is <0.025.
  • Decrease: the percent change in the number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 or inpatient hospitalizations is < 10% and the p-value based on Poisson regression is <0.025.
  • Stable: Any other condition other than those described above.

Burden definition and categorization

We utilize the Wisconsin Department of Health Services definition and categorization of burden, which is the total number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 per 100,000 Dane County residents in the past 2 weeks. The burden categories are defined as:

  • Low: Rate of people diagnosed with COVID-19 per 100,000 residents is less than or equal to 10
  • Moderate: Rate is greater than 10 but less than or equal to 50
  • Moderately High: Rate is greater than 50 but less than or equal to 100
  • High: Rate is greater than 100 but less than or equal to 350
  • Very High: Rate is greater than 350 but less than or equal to 1,000
  • Critically High: Rate is greater than 1,000

Comparison to state health department data

The numbers presented on this local dashboard may not match the numbers presented for Dane County on the state health department COVID dashboard. This can be due to timing of when data are posted, or the way we count cases and tests. The state health department uses symptom onset or diagnosis date as the date a case is counted. We use the date of test result, as this is the date the person is known to have COVID.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do these numbers reflect everyone who has COVID-19 in Dane County?

No. Some people have no or very mild symptoms and don’t get tested. As a result, there are people who have COVID-19 who were not tested. See our testing page for the latest information on testing.

How do you calculate the number of people tested?

We receive testing data from public and private laboratories via a statewide reporting system called the Wisconsin Electronic Disease Surveillance System. We only receive reports on lab tests done for Dane County residents. Each test that enters our data system must be manually processed by our staff. As of 7/24/20, due to a high volume of tests conducted each day, we are now including negative tests on the dashboard that have entered our data system but have not yet been processed by our staff. Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests does not affect the timeliness of notification of test results. Numbers for recent dates are subject to change as tests continue to be processed.

The Total Tests box on the dashboard displays the total number of tests conducted (minus the current date), including multiple tests conducted for the same person and tests that have not yet been processed. The People Tested box displays the total number of individuals tested, only for tests that have been processed. When tests are processed they are assigned an ID number, and are matched to a person’s existing ID number if they have had a previous test.. The Tests by Date chart shows the total number of tests each day (including multiple tests for the same person) based on the date of the test result from 3/7/20 forward, and does not show tests for the current date. There were 69 COVID-19 tests prior to 3/7/20.

What if somebody gets tested more than once? Are they being counted each time?

A positive case is counted just once no matter how many tests that person has taken.

How do you calculate percent positivity?

Percent positive is calculated from the number of new positive tests divided by the number of total tests for each day. If someone has more than one positive test, only their first positive test is counted in the numerator, but all tests are counted in the denominator. The denominator is total tests rather than total people tested because percent positivity is also an indicator of testing capacity. We want people, especially those in high risk groups, to be tested more than once, and to include all those tests in our calculations to gauge the spread of COVID and to know whether enough testing is occurring.

Are antibody tests included in the dashboard? 

Antibody tests are not included in either our case counts or test counts.

How do you calculate the case count?

All case counts reflect the number of people who tested positive prior to the current date. The new and cumulative case count by date graph shows people who tested positive by the date the positive result was received, and does not show cases for the current date. People who test positive are only counted once, even if they have more than one positive test.

How do you calculate recovered cases?

Currently, there is neither a national or international definition of what it means to “recover” from COVID-19, nor a cure for COVID-19. We use "recovered" as a proxy for infectiousness. In absence of an established definition, prior to 6/23/20, we have been calculating “recovered” cases as those who have not died and it has been over 30 days since their date of symptom onset or first positive test. Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is now reporting recovered cases by county on their website, and their definition includes documentation of resolved symptoms or documentation of release from public health isolation. In order to be consistent with the state, as of 6/23/20, we will now be reporting “recovered” cases in the same way, which includes more cases than what we had previously been counting as “recovered.”

Why did the “Cases Ever Hospitalized” number increase but the number of Current COVID-19 Inpatients stayed the same?

The “Cases Ever Hospitalized” number is the cumulative number of Dane County residents who tested positive for COVID-19 that were reported being hospitalized to the Wisconsin Electronic Disease Surveillance System (WEDSS). We only learn about hospitalizations that occur around the time of interview through this reporting mechanism, and therefore this is a likely underestimate of hospitalizations.

The “Current COVID-19 Inpatients” and “Current COVID-19 Patients in ICU” numbers are reported by hospitals in Dane County to a different system called EMResource; these numbers can include patients who are not Dane County residents.

If the cumulative number of hospitalizations increases but the current number of inpatients stays the same or decreases, there could have been more discharges than new patients admitted. Additionally, if the cumulative number of hospitalizations stays the same but the current number increases, a non-Dane County resident may have been hospitalized, or that patient may have not yet been reported to WEDSS.

Where can I find the date of death for COVID-19 deaths among Dane County residents?

This can be found on the Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ website; scroll to “Number of reported COVID-19 deaths by date of death” and select “Dane County.”

When is a death added to the dashboard?

Unless we receive a record from a medical facility or medical examiner indicating that the death is due to COVID-19, our practice is to wait for a death certificate to confirm whether COVID-19 was listed on the death certificate as an underlying or contributing cause of death. Often death certificates are available a few weeks after death. When an autopsy is performed, death certificates can take many months to be completed.

Are UW student positive cases included in the average number of cases? If yes, why?

Yes, UW students are included in our dashboard totals. We use the most updated population denominator for Dane County, which is 546,695 as of July 2019. Per census rules, students would be included in this population count, as “college students who live away from home should be counted at the on- or off- campus residence where they live and sleep most of the time.” We use 546,695 to calculate rates for Dane County, which includes students.

Keep in mind, we report differently than UW does on their dashboard. We assign based on date of test result, but they assign based on date they learn about the case. The positive tests from the university testing sites are included in our numbers, but the dates don’t always align perfectly.

UW-Madison is not an island. An increase in cases on campus may impact the surrounding community, including populations at higher risk of exposure (e.g., essential workers) and populations more vulnerable to severe COVID illness (e.g., people of color, people aged 65 and older, and people with chronic conditions). As a reminder, Public Health Madison & Dane County does not have authority to inform plans for UW since they are a state government entity.