COVID source callout: CDC shifts to weekly updates

This week, the CDC announced a big change to its COVID-19 data reporting: instead of updating case and death numbers daily, the figures will be updated weekly. The change comes into effect on October 20.

Under the new schedule, data updates will be cut off on Wednesdays, though it’s unclear if the CDC will actually update its dashboard on Wednesdays or if this will happen on a day later in the week.

According to the CDC’s data FAQ page, this change was made “to allow for additional reporting flexibility, reduce the reporting burden on states and jurisdictions, and maximize surveillance resources.” To me, this makes a lot of sense: as case data become increasingly less reliable (thanks to increased at-home testing, closing PCR sites, etc.), daily updates can be more misleading than they are valuable. Most states are not reporting daily data either.

Also, much as it pains me to say this, the CDC’s COVID-19 dashboard is very likely not getting the views and attention that it received one or two years ago. If this change frees up agency data scientists to work on new tracking mechanisms that will be more useful, that seems like a fair trade-off to me. But it’s still a bummer to see the daily data go, especially at a time when we really need information to track a potential fall surge.

Worth noting: the HHS Community Profile Reports are updating on a weekly cadence now as well.

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