On Wednesday, Aug. 26, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) announced that it’s added an important new information marker to the COVID-19 Data Dashboard – a website that the state uses as a central clearing house for public information about the virus.

The state has added the all-important average turnaround time for COVID-19 testing.

The new graph on the site will show “the average daily turnaround time based on data from all laboratories that report electronically to NCDHHS.”

The NCDHHS notes that Individual laboratories may have shorter or longer turnaround times and, therefore, people’s individual experiences could vary from the average that will be listed on the page.

In addition to reporting daily turnaround times, the dashboard will now include a rolling 7-day average for the test time. According to new information from the state, the 7-day average for test turnaround time has decreased during the first half of August and is now relatively level.

“There are multiple stages that make up the time from when a person is tested to when a person receives results,” the department notes in the Wednesday press release. “The first stage is the time between when a specimen is collected and when it is received by a laboratory. Several factors can impact this timing, including how and when the specimen is transported to the laboratory.”

It adds that the second stage is the time between when the specimen is received and when the laboratory has the result. These two stages are shown in dark purple on the dashboard’s new graph.

“The third stage is the time between when the laboratory has a result and when the laboratory electronically reports the result to NCDHHS,” it states. “This stage is shown in light purple on the dashboard. The final stage, which is not represented in the data, is the time between when a laboratory reports a result and when the patient is notified of the result. This stage happens between the health care provider and patient and is not reported to NCDHHS.

The site can be found at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard.