Dane Co. hitting more goals in COVID-19 fight; Wisconsin's meeting fewer

Published: May. 25, 2020 at 3:17 PM CDT
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Dane County and the state of Wisconsin appear to be going two separate ways when it comes to meeting the goals each established for determining how well their respective regions are doing to contain the spread of COVID-19.

On Friday, Public Health Madison Dane County announced that the county met enough of the agency’s goals that it would move to ease the “Safer at Home”-style restrictions it imposed after the state’s order was struck down. The county is set to move into Phase 1 on Tuesday.

Since then, another criterion has been met. In all, six of the nine ones PHMDC tracks, including a decrease in COVID-like syndromic cases and a low percentage of tests coming back positive, have been reached. In fact, enough boxes have been checked off that the county appears ready to enter Phase 2 when the current 14-day waiting period between phases expires.

The three remaining goals are fewer than four cases per day averaged over 14 days, adequate supplies and staff to conduct 800 tests per day, and stopping community spread.

Meanwhile, the metrics the Department of Health Services tracks, which were created for its Badger Bounceback Plan, have decidedly gone the other way. Two weeks ago, five of its six goals had been reached; now, it’s just two. The only ones still considered met were related to hospital capacity, which have been good.

The three criteria that recently moved into the unmet category are downward trajectories of COVID-like syndromic cases and percent of total tests that came back positive, as well as a downward trend of COVID-19 cases among nurses. The downward trajectory of influenza-like cases was the single one unmet at the state’s high point – although it had been reached previously.

(Update: Following the publication of this article Monday, the DHS updated its dashboard later in the day to reflect COVID-like syndromic cases do now meet its criteria.)

Since the state started tracking it, hospitals have always reached their goals in which 95 percent of them can affirm they can treat all patients without crisis care and have arranged for testing for clinical staff.

It is worth noting, however, that the Department of Health Services’ listed goals are not the same as Public Health Madison & Dane County. For example, the latter tracks nine criteria, while DHS only keeps tabs on six. Additionally, the ways the spread of coronavirus are tracked also differ, with Dane County focusing more absolute metrics versus DHS’ list is dominated by trendlines.

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