They say that knowledge is power and state leaders are hoping that, in the ongoing fight against COVID-19, more data and more knowledge will help communities across the state prevent the spread of the deadly disease.

On Friday, June 26, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) announced that it was expanding its county-by-county reports on the coronavirus, as well as its reports regarding clusters at schools and child care operations.

State officials are hoping that this more detailed map of the disease’s spread will allow relief measures across the state to be targeted better.

NCDHHS has been dumping all the information into the state’s “COVID-19 Dashboard” – a publically accessible assemblage of data at the NCDHHS website. The dashboard will now include expanded county data regarding trends, demographics and testing. The updated dashboard will also have a new section pertaining to the disease’s spread at childcare businesses and schools.

In addition, the dashboard will also include more specific information such as county trends over time of cases and deaths, demographic information on cases and deaths by race, ethnicity, sex – and broken down by age groups. It also now displays, by county, the percentage of tests that are positive.

According to a Friday press release from the NCDHHS, there could be some gaps in the information pertaining to parts of the state, however, the collection of information should still be helpful.

The release states, “Previously, testing data by county was not available because a large proportion of negative tests were reported manually and did not include county information. With more tests now being reported electronically with county data, there is now sufficient data to reliably share the percent positive by county. The dashboard will also display the number of tests that are reported electronically in each county. There are limitations to the data. About a quarter of recent tests reported to North Carolina are not reported electronically, and some counties may be more likely to use a lab that reports electronically.”

In addition to the county-by county-breakdown of data, NCDHHS is now putting out a biweekly report on COVID-19 clusters in child care and school settings. A “cluster” is defined for this purpose, as “both a minimum of five cases in the same facility within a 14-day period and plausible epidemiological linkage between cases.”