For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

What Do COVID-19 Case Numbers Really Mean and What Numbers Are Useful?

coronavirus close up

February 19, 2021

If you’re frequently trying to make sense of the number of local and national COVID-19 cases and deaths from the CDC’s tracker or other places, but are unsure what it all means, you’re not alone. It can be tough to know how to act based on the numbers, and what information those numbers are capturing.

Experts have tips to keep in mind, though: today’s case numbers represent infections that happened a week or so ago, as it often takes days for symptoms to occur. Weekly averages are more useful than daily counts if you’re looking at trends, as there are delays in data. Beyond tips like these on how to interpret the data, there are the data itself and whether it’s capturing what it should.

Recently published research from experts at Drexel’s Dornsife School of Public Health suggests failures locally and globally in how these numbers are gathered and shared may be part of the reason for our confusion.

Dornsife researchers mentioned in the piece include Alex Ezeh, PhD, professor; postdoctoral researcher Garumma T. Feyissa, PhD; Neal Goldstein, PhD, assistant professor; and Igor Burstyn, PhD, associate professor.

Read the full story on the Drexel News Blog:

What Do COVID-19 Case Numbers Really Mean and What Numbers Are Useful?