State creates new dashboard showing COVID-19 spread

The Statehouse File

The state is about to debut a new COVID-19 dashboard to serve as a base to make recommendations and decisions about keeping students and educators safe around Indiana.

Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box announced Wednesday that the state will use a ranked, color-coded system based on three metrics — the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 cases, the positivity rate and the change in percent positivity from the previous week. The statewide map will show each county rating on a map.

Box said the new dashboard will launch Wednesday on the state health department’s website and rank counties in four possible categories, ranging from a code blue to the most severe rating, code red. The categories are intended to offer recommendations to K-12 schools in the counties when making decisions about how to keep students and educators safe.

Daviess County, for example, is currently in the red category, Box said. This means schools are advised to cancel extracurricular activities and move middle and high school students to virtual learning.

But what the rankings don’t trigger, Box said, is any required action counties must take. It will be their decision to make changes, as has been the case for the governor’s statewide mask mandate. And all counties are recommended to keep at least one school open regardless of their ranking to help families with remote learning, food security and other issues.

In general, Box said the path forward to reopening is the same as it was when the pandemic first emerged in the spring and forced Indiana citizens home: Social distancing, good hygiene and wearing masks in public.

Box urged Hoosiers in the briefing to follow these practices if they want to reopen. She cited challenges in enforcing mask wearing at the local level.

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