The federal government will no longer track community levels of COVID-19 in the United States once the public health emergency ends on May 11, a news report said.
Going forward, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will lean on COVID-19 hospitalization rates in some areas as a measure of transmission rates, similar to its influenza tracking, according to CNN.
Since hospitalizations are a lagging indicator, this decision may slow the news of a spike in transmission. But wastewater and air traveler testing may help provide an early warning system, an unidentified source told the news outlet.
“We’re not going to lose complete surveillance, but we will lose that hyperlocal sensitivity to it perhaps,” the source said.
Nursing homes have used the CDC’s color-coded reporting systems to make COVID-19 mitigation decisions. This was particularly important for scheduling resident and staff testing during the early pandemic, when researchers discovered that nursing home case rates were closely tied to the rate of COVID-19 transmission in the surrounding community.
The CDC changed its county-level COVID-19 data tracking in early 2022, from a system that used weekly case rates and testing results to the system it uses now, which relies on hospital admissions and available beds data, along with weekly rate of new infections, CNN noted.
Current COVID-19 rates
With some bumps, the rate of COVID-19 cases in the United States has steadily declined since January, as most of the population either has been vaccinated or has natural immunity from a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The overall numbers have fallen from a high of more than 480,000 weekly cases reported January 4, to 88,000 weekly cases April 26, the CDC’s COVID data tracker shows. The trend is downward in nursing homes as well, with about 4,400 cases per 1,000 resident weeks reported by the CDC for the week of April 23, compared to more than 21,000 the week of January 8. About 200 residents continue to die from the disease each week, however.
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