When it comes to deadly global pandemics – and many other things as well – knowledge is power, and the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) announced on Wednesday, May 20 a new tool available to anyone who wants to better track the spread and effects of COVID-19 in North Carolina. The department unveiled its new “COVID-19 Dashboard” information tracker.

The interactive dashboard offers an instant overview of multiple virus-related metrics and it allows state health officials and others to make informed decisions so that the state can “responsibly” ease up on the implemented measures that have changed the way people live over the last two months.

The dashboard can be accessed online at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard.

The new web tool includes an enhanced state map of cases as well as surveillance tracking of coronavirus-like cases. It also provides easy-to-consume information on testing, hospitalizations, contact tracing, personal protective equipment and infections in congregate living settings.

Also included is a section of weekly reports that provide information on presumed recoveries and risk factors for severe illness for North Carolinians.

According to a May 20 press release announcing the offering, one beneficial feature of the interactive dashboard is the ability to filter both cases and deaths by demographic information – that is, by race, ethnicity, gender and age. If, for instance, a dashboard user selects a particular race, the tool will display the data for the ethnicity, gender and age breakdown for that racial group, including cases or deaths.

Another feature of the interactive dashboard is the ability of users to search for case and death counts virus stats by county or ZIP code.

In addition, it will allow people to view cases by date reported or date of specimen collection. That can be helpful for those trying to closely follow the spread of the virus.

The new tool also shows ongoing outbreaks in congregate living settings and it provides “rollover functions” so users can see the daily numbers.