Tips for tracking COVID-19 cases in your community

Posted at 11:39 AM, Nov 20, 2020

As COVID-19 cases spike across the country, public health experts, doctors and everyday people are constantly checking the spread of the virus in their communities.

There are several tools available that give a variety of information regarding case levels. Some trackers provide the number of cases over a 100-day period, while others compare the number of positive tests to the total number of tests.

The information can be overwhelming, especially for those who are not health experts. What information is useful, and how should the general public use it to make decisions about their everyday life?

Health experts say any tool will help provide context to the situation, as long as the information comes from a legitimate source, like a state health website or reputable institution like Johns Hopkins University.

But to make things easier to understand, experts suggest using just one tool in order to get information.

"If you're traveling somewhere, you want to be able to compare your risk at home versus your risk on the trip," said Dr. John Hammer, the chief of medicine at Rose Medical Center. "It's nice to have a tool that's used in both places to measure that."

Using just one source makes it easier to understand the situation, even if the numbers vary from tool to tool.