Tagcovid warning system

Introducing Northern Mariana Islands to the U.S. COVID Coverage Map

Covid Act Now is adding the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as the second United States territory on our COVID warning system. Check out our first U.S. territory launch of Puerto Rico.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is a territory of the United States located in the Pacific Ocean. It has a population of about 51,433 (as estimated in the  2020 census data), with 90% of the population living on Saipan.

Our hope is that this coverage will give residents of the Northern Mariana Islands the power to make informed decisions on subjects from individual education to public policy, like stay-at-home and mask orders.

Covid Act Now is committed to providing individuals and policy-makers with accurate and useful information on COVID trends for all communities dealing with COVID, including U.S. territories. 

Our goal is to build a shared understanding of COVID and inform data-driven decision-making through clear, actionable, and real-time COVID risk data for every U.S resident.

This is what the Northern Mariana Islands’ COVID risk looks like today:

We continue to improve upon available data and accuracy to provide more information to the residents and visitors of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Covid Act Now is open-source, so everything can be freely shared, used, and built upon. Through our partnerships with Georgetown University Center for Global Health Science and Security, Stanford University Clinical Excellence Research Center, Grand Rounds, and more, we are always improving our data.

The following 5 Key Risk Factors are now available at Covid Act Now: Daily New Cases, Infection Rate, Test Positivity, ICU Headroom Used, and Tracers Hired.

To find the COVID data for the Northern Mariana Islands:

The Northern Mariana Islands are visible in the U.S. Coverage Map. You can also type “Northern Mariana Islands” into the search bar located above the map.

County-level data:

The Northern Mariana Islands are made up of four municipalities. We are actively working to improve upon our coverage of these municipalities to provide data that is as complete as possible.

For a description of assumptions and methodology, please see our references and assumptions document along with our data sources presentation.

To learn more about Covid Act Now, visit our about page. or for more information please reach out on our contact page or by email at info@covidactnow.org.

Calculating better Infection Growth Rates (Rt) for more communities

Today we are making a change to the way we calculate Rt to better serve lower population regions and regions with lower case counts as well as to improve the timeliness of our Rt metric. We want to be more timely in letting people know when COVID is growing or shrinking in their communities, and this hopefully helps people understand how policies and actions are able to achieve different outcomes.

Our Newest Metric: Contact Tracing

Today, Covid Act Now is excited to announce a fourth metric added to our COVID warning system: contact tracing. We will layout how we calculate whether states have sufficient contact tracing capacity, and why we think it is an important metric to assess reopening.

Why Does Contact Tracing Matter?

When people contract the virus, they do not show symptoms right away. Even as states begin to reopen, people will need to quarantine themselves if they have been silently exposed to someone with COVID.

How will they know? That’s where contact tracing comes in.

Because of this problem, it is critical that enough tracing capacity exists to rapidly trace the contacts of individuals who test positive for COVID. Those contacts can be tested, quarantined (if necessary), and asked about whom else they have come into contact with. Because exposed individuals begin infecting others, it is critical that this process be completed in less than 48 hours. If this routine of testing and tracing is done quickly and completely, it can contain COVID, as we have seen in South Korea and Taiwan, and without the need for costly lockdowns.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force’s Guidelines say that contact tracing is a “core responsibility” of states in order to be prepared to reopen. As of May 21, 27 states (CA, CT, DE, FL, HA, IL, IN, KS, KY, ME, MD, MI, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, PA, RI, SD, WA, WV, and WI) call for contact tracing in their reopening plans. The American Enterprise Institute’s roadmap to reopening says states must massively scale up contact tracing and isolation/quarantine of traced contacts.

How Should We Measure Contact Tracing?

So how do we calculate contact tracing capacity? Experts recommend tracing contacts of someone who tests positive for COVID within 24 hours, to contain the potential of transmission. Based on conversations with practitioners and public health experts, our metric assumes that tracing all contacts for each new positive COVID case requires an average of five full-time contact tracers. 

Therefore, our contact tracing metric measures the percentage of new cases for which all contacts can be traced within 48 hours relative to available contact tracing staff in the state (assuming 1:5 new-positive-COVID-case:contact-tracing-staff ratio).

We use green if greater than 90% of the contacts can be traced within 48 hours, yellow if between 20% and 90% of the contacts can be traced within 48 hours, orange if between 7% and 20% of the contacts can be traced within 48 hours, and red if fewer than 7% of the contacts can be traced within 48 hours.

Here is an example from Wyoming:

As of June 13, Wyoming has an average of 12 new cases per day. If Wyoming needs 5 contact tracers per case, that would be 60 contact tracers necessary to trace all cases in 48 hours. Since Wyoming has 50 contact tracers, that is enough to trace 82% of cases.

What Should The Goals Be?

How did we choose our targets? Research estimates that the infection rate can be driven below 1.0 if 70-90% of cases are identified and 70-90% of those contacts are traced and isolated within 48 hours or less. Therefore, we chose 90% as the cut-off between green and yellow.

The boundaries between yellow, orange, and red are trickier. When less than 90% of positive cases have their contacts traced within 48 hours, contact tracing will likely be insufficient to contain COVID. We use 90% as the boundary between green and yellow. In the absence of expert consensus, we have set inclusive lower thresholds for yellow and orange. We peg the cut-off between yellow and orange at 20% — the number required for there to be one contact tracer per active case per 48 hours — and the cut-off between orange and red at 7%. Every state currently coded red is either currently experiencing a new outbreak or effectively has no tracing capacity.

A state can become green either by increasing the number of contact tracers, or by decreasing the number of new daily COVID infections. We hope that this new metric will help states factor contact tracing capacity into their reopening decisions.

Check out our Youtube Channel for our educational videos.

To learn more about Covid Act Now, visit our about page. For more information please reach out on our contact page or by email at info@covidactnow.org.

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