Frequently Asked Questions about Data and Reporting

Accurately tracking the spread of COVID-19 helps federal, state, and local decision-makers allocate critical emergency response funding and develop public health guidance. 

COVID-19 case counts and deaths are key public health indicators. The accuracy of case counts may vary because of reporting barriers like the convenience of at-home rapid antigen testing and varied access to COVID-19 testing and diagnosis by a healthcare provider. COVID-19 death reporting is less burdened by the previous barriers but can be impacted by the timing lags in data entry across many systems of monitoring. There is evidence to support reported data, but experts agree that the number of COVID cases is likely undercounted and underreported.

The CDC COVID Data Tracker is a collaborative hub of COVID-19 monitoring information informed by state and county reports from hospitals, healthcare providers, and laboratories. The CDC makes this data publicly available and reports national COVID-19 data to the World Health Organization, as required under international health regulations. The current key indicators – COVID-19 test positivity, emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths – help reveal COVID-19 trends across the nation as we navigate COVID-19 as an endemic disease. 

The National Center for Health Statistics also updates national statistics guidelines to ensure increased specificity and accuracy of COVID-19 death reporting. The cause-of-death determination guidelines distinguish COVID-19 and post-acute COVID-19 syndrome (PACS) as either an immediate or underlying cause of death on death certificates and medical reports. These updates help to clarify if people are dying from COVID-19 illness as an immediate cause of death, or dying with a COVID-19-related illness or condition as an underlying cause of death. 

Updated November 22, 2023 

Messaging Resources about Data and Reporting

Communications Tool: Building Bridges

Misinformation Alerts about Data and Reporting

New study used to falsely link COVID-19 vaccines to excess deaths

A new BMJ study assessed data from 47 countries between 2020 and 2022, finding a total of three million reported excess deaths, with 2021 having the highest number of reported deaths. The study concluded that “excess mortality has remained high in the Western World for three consecutive years, despite the implementation of COVID-19 containment measures

Read More
Study finds that COVID-19 is still deadlier than the flu

A new JAMA study found that COVID-19 remains deadlier than the flu, with 35 percent higher mortality in hospitalized patients between October 2023 and March 2024. Although the overall risk of death from COVID-19 has declined over time, it is still “substantially higher” than the risk of death from the flu. The study contradicts common

Read More
U.S. congressperson falsely claims that COVID-19 vaccine injuries are widespread

A video clip of a U.S. congressperson known for promoting vaccine disinformation is trending online. The congressperson falsely claimed that “studies” show that COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous and shared anecdotes of alleged vaccine-related injuries and deaths. She also argues that children should not be vaccinated against COVID-19. Recommendation: Medium Risk About Us The Public Health

Read More