They say that information is power and that’s no doubt the hope of state health officials who announced on Friday, Nov. 20 that the state was expanding the demographic data it reports on North Carolina COVID-19 cases.

With new weekly summaries, demographic data for COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents and total deaths by week are now available broken down by age group, gender, race and ethnicity for the state.

The new weekly information will be updated every Monday.

In another addition, demographic data on deaths is now available by county.

The new information will be displayed on the “Case Demographics” page of the state’s COVID-19 “Dashboard” – a web-based information tool the state created earlier this year to provide constant up-to-date data on the pandemic.

As of noon on Friday, Nov. 20, North Carolina had seen a total of 328,846 coronavirus cases since the state started counting in March – and, at that time, 1,571 people were hospitalized in the state for COVID-19.

According to a November 20 press release announcing the new data breakdown, the demographic information won’t be available in every case since, at times, people can’t be reached by authorities and, in other cases, a person may choose not to disclose the information.

“Because demographic data are often obtained through case investigations by local health departments, there can be a lag in when the data are available,” the press release states. “Therefore, data displayed for the most recent two-week period are often incomplete.”

The data may also be incomplete when a county has a population of fewer than 500 individuals for a specific demographic group – or fewer than three cases occurring in a week – because some data is suppressed to protect patient privacy.