Understanding COVID-19 Data
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Luke's has relied upon data to inform our response. Data guides our readiness planning, patient care and resource management decisions. St. Luke's also shares data with local, state, and national public health agencies to support civic and community health leaders in shaping policies and guidelines that impact health care, the economy and education in Idaho.
Recognizing how current and relevant data can help inform decisions and behaviors, St. Luke's created a dashboard to provide the community with visibility to statistics and trends within St. Luke's Health System related to COVID-19 activity.
Dashboard data is complete for the previous day and represents a point in time. Where useful, it includes rolling averages and trend lines. These numbers are for St. Luke’s activity only; for information on other hospitals, health systems, the state of Idaho and other health care organizations, please consult these national, state and local resources.
St. Luke’s knows coronavirus data viewed alone or displayed without context does not provide a clear or accurate view of pandemic activity in our community. To help you navigate the numbers, please first review the key metric descriptions below, as they explain each data point included on the dashboard and why it matters.
- COVID Tests Dashboard - The testing numbers below are St. Luke’s-specific data. They are important because they give us visibility into how the disease is spreading in the communities we serve, which helps us anticipate hospitalizations 1-3 weeks down the road. The main graphs show system-wide data. Use the map to filter data by county.
- St. Luke's COVID-19 Testing by Day - this data shows the overall number of COVID tests administered by St. Luke's each day (grey bar), how many of those tests are pending results (light blue bar), and how many of those tests showed COVID-positive results (dark blue bar).
- It's important to note that St. Luke's tests symptomatic patients in our hospitals and in the community, as well as high-priority asymptomatic patients (those without symptoms), such as patients ready for transfer from a St. Luke's hospital to a shared living facility (like a nursing home) and patients preparing for a planned surgery or procedure at St. Luke's. Test results come back negative for most asymptomatic patients, so including these asymptomatic tests in the dashboard provides an accurate picture of tests administered each day, but it also lowers the percentage of COVID-positive results in a way that may not accurately reflect community transmission activity.
- This data only includes tests for the virus itself. St. Luke's does not test for COVID-19 antibodies.
- Percent of Patients Testing Positive for COVID-19 at St. Luke's (14-day average) - Each point on this chart shows the number of positive COVID test results in the last 14 days as a percentage of the total number of test results during the same time period. This measure is also known as the positivity rate. The line connecting the data points illustrates how the 14-day average positivity rate is trending over time. The positivity rate helps determine when the spread of the virus is under control. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a state or region maintain a positivity rate at 5 percent or lower for at least two weeks before relaxing physical distancing practices. When an area’s positivity rate is too high, it's an indication that the amount of testing may not be sufficient to capture the true spread of the virus.
- Patients in the Hospital Dashboard - These metrics help us track how many patients in our hospitals are COVID positive compared to patients in the hospital for other reasons. This data is important because, as the percentage of COVID-positive patients grows, it informs our decisions about other types of care (such as elective surgeries) we may need to reduce to accommodate care for COVID-positive patients. These numbers do not account for pediatric patients or patients who visit a hospital emergency room and do not end up requiring overnight admission to the hospital. The main graphs show system-wide data. Use the tiles at right to filter the data by each St. Luke's hospital.
- Patients admitted to hospital for all reasons: Adults admitted to a St. Luke's hospital as an inpatient (needing treatment that requires hospitalization for at least one night). This number excludes adult patients hospitalized for rehabilitation, behavioral health, and skilled nursing care.
- COVID positive patients admitted to the hospital: Adults admitted to a St. Luke's hospital as an inpatient who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Percent of patients that are COVID positive in St. Luke's hospitals by day: This measure of COVID-positive adult inpatients as a percentage of the total number of adult inpatients is an indicator of how COVID-related patient care is shaping St. Luke's operations (available beds, staff allocation, PPE supply consumption, etc.). It helps us evaluate our overall capacity for care.
- Note: Any COVID-19 patients in the hospital are above our normal volume of patients. Even moderate numbers of hospitalized COVID-19 patients (and small changes in these numbers) can have a significant impact on our operations, stretching staffing and supply resources.
- Hospital-specific data - when you filter this information by hospital, it's important to note that we limit the volume of COVID-positive patients in certain hospitals so we don't overwhelm hospital staff and supply resources. When a hospital's COVID-positive limit is reached, we transfer additional COVID-positive patients to another St. Luke's hospital. For example, the number of COVID-positive patients in our McCall hospital will always be low because we only briefly care for hospitalized COVID-positive patients in McCall before transferring them to a St. Luke's hospital in the Treasure Valley. Therefore, low numbers of COVID-positive patients in a particular hospital may not accurately reflect the presence of the virus in the local community. Rather, it shows how many local resources are currently dedicated to caring for COVID-positive patients.