COVID 19: What is your county’s risk classification?

As new COVID-19 statistics come out each day, new terms and classifications seem to be used when describing the virus’s activity level in areas.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has come up with classifications they feel give local communities the tools they need to respond to COVID-19. DHS has made a shift to assessing the COVID-19 activity level in counties by labeling them low, medium and high.

These classifications are being used to by some entities as decision-making tools in terms of deciding whether or not area activities should be taking place. The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) is just one who is looking at the DHS classifications as they prepare to make decisions about a fall sports season.

According to the DHS website, “At the request of our local public health partners, and in recognition of the fact that local decisions now drive our response efforts we are adding tools to our toolbox to fight COVID-19.”

The activity level map is the first in a series of data dashboards that DHS will provide to help communities and individuals assess their COVID-19 activity level and response.

“What we want you to remember is that the virus has not changed; when you physically distance, wear a cloth face covering, limit your trips, and wash your hands, you are practicing the best health measures to protect yourself against COVID-19,” said the DHS.

The risk classification is determined by burden (case rate) and trajectory (case change), which are based on confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The COVID-19 activity level map that features burden and trajectory indicators are based on whether the burden status is low, moderate, moderately high, or high and whether trajectory status is significantly shrinking, growing, or have no statistically significant change.

Burden is the total number of cases per 100,000 Wisconsin residents in the last two weeks. Case rate greater than 10, but less than or equal to 50, equals low burden. Case rate greater than 10, but less than or equal to 50, equals moderate burden.

Case rate greater than 50, but less than or equal to 100, equals moderate high burden. Case rate greater than 100, equals high burden.

Trajectory is the percent change from previous to current week and p-value (indicates statistical significance) from a test against the percent change equal to zero.

Trajectory Statuses Value are classified as follows:

Shrinking: Percent change in cases is less than or equal to negative 10 percent, and p-value is less than 0.025.

Growing: Percent change in cases is greater than or equal to 10 percent, and p-value is less than 0.025.

No Significant Change: Any other conditions besides those that meet the "shrinking" or "growing" statuses described above.

Low burden and either shrinking or no significant change for trajectory would equal a county being defined as “Low Risk.”

Counties classified as “Medium Risk” would have low burden and growing trajectory, moderate burden and shrinking or no significant change trajectory or moderately high burden with shrinking tradjectory.

All other combinations of burden and trajectory would classify a county as being “High Risk.”

The DHS updates data each Wednesday by 2 p.m.

As of Wednesday, July 15, 2020, St. Croix County was indicated as “High Risk” along with 59 others.

“Medium Risk” counties are: Dunn, Burnett, Washburn, Sawyer, Ashland, Vilas, Florence, Lincoln, Jackson, Vernon and Richland.

The only “Low Risk” counties in the state are Rusk and Landglade.

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