The state will soon begin publishing data on how many people are wearing masks, how many food establishments fail to take proper precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and how long it takes to get test results, according to state Health Director Bruce Anderson.

The new data will be incorporated into the state’s “dashboard” or online summary of information about the local impact of the pandemic available at hawaiicovid19.com.

Anderson said in a news release Wednesday that the new data will assist in decision-making to allow the state to “better track and manage the disease with a higher degree of accountability.”  The new information will be updated daily or weekly, depending on what sort of data is being published.

A COVID-19 testing technician by the Straub Medical Center in Honolulu, HI, on August 5, 2020. (Ronen Zilberman photo Civil Beat)
A COVID-19 testing technician by the Straub Medical Center in Honolulu, Wednesday. Ronen Zilberman/Civil Beat

“The Department of Health has been monitoring most of these measures since the beginning of the pandemic, such as the response time for contact tracing and the percentage of laboratory results that are positive. We have also been closely monitoring hospital capacity, including the number of hospital beds that are filled with COVID patients on any given day,” said Anderson.

“This is not just an academic exercise. The accessibility of this information on a public dashboard allows us to clearly see how well we are dealing with this pandemic, helps others understand why decisions are made, and holds all of us to a higher standard,” Anderson said in the statement.

The new metrics were developed in cooperation with the counties, and will compare disease activity in Hawaii with other states as well as data on compliance with face mask requirements.

New data to be published will include information on complaints about food establishments that don’t follow the protocols to prevent infections, and the number of red placards that are issued to food service businesses that fail to follow the rules.

The department will also detail what percent of the people who become ill and their contacts are interviewed within 24 hours; the capacity and occupancy statistics of isolation and quarantine facilities; and the turn-around time for laboratory tests.

Hospitalization information will also be included, such as hospital capacity, acute care bed occupancy because of COVID-19 cases by day and county, intensive care unit bed occupancy, and ventilator use by COVID-19 patients.

A spokeswoman for the department said the plan is to add the new information to the data on the dashboard in the next week or two.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Hawaii has climbed rapidly over the past few weeks, and the department has reported 524 new cases in just the past three days. Health officials say the increase may require the state to resume tighter restrictions to prevent the spread of the disease.

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