By Stephanie Innes|Arizona Republic
The key data switch is the elimination of data specific to the number and level of COVID-19 patients in Arizona hospitals. The reason behind the change ishe end of Arizona’s public health emergency, which happened March 30, state health officials say.
When the public health emergency ended, Arizona hospitals were no longer required to report their COVID-19 surveillance data to the state, and that’s why the dashboard is again changing, Arizona Department of Health Services spokesperson Steve Elliott said.
“The public health emergency is over and the way we operate is going to change because we’re not in that emergency, where we have that data reported into our system every day,” he said.
The reduction in hospital data is the second time this year that the state health department has changed the information it posts on its COVID-19 dashboard.
For nearly two years the state posted dashboard updates on a daily basis but stopped on Feb. 26 and instead switched to weekly reporting. State officials said that with COVID-19 metrics declining, the timing was right for that shift from daily to weekly reporting.
Also, weekly reporting is consistent with how Arizona already does reporting for other infectious diseases and will allow for more consistency, state officials said in February.
The state dashboard is supposed to be updated weekly. On April 6, no new hospital numbers were added, though at least one hospital measure — hospital capacity — is expected to be restored this week in a more limited way via reporting incentives with the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, which is Arizona’s Medicaid program.
Valley Shield COVID-19 Testing on Jan. 4, 2022, in Phoenix.
Three important hospital metrics have helped Arizona assess the severity of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic: hospital bed occupancy statewide; the number and level of COVID-19 patients in Arizona hospitals, including ICU beds and visits to emergency rooms; and the number of ventilators available and in use.
“With the end of the emergency declaration, a surveillance order through which this information was reported to ADHS is no longer in effect,” interim state health director Don Herrington wrote in an April 7 blog post.