Harrisburg, PA – Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary John Wetzel today announced that the DOC will relaunch its COVID-19 dashboard. In March 2020, the department responded quickly to the pandemic and implemented a system for reporting basic data on testing and testing results for all staff and the inmate population. This process was sufficient until the sheer volume of testing and results overwhelmed that approach.
"In our haste to get information out to the public, we put a process in place that involved a single individual pulling data from multiple sources manually every day," Wetzel explained. The new approach will automate the data pull for multiple systems, essentially eliminating redundant entries which have been the primary problem since November.
"It's unacceptable to continue in this manner, and I need to both accept responsibility for it, and address it permanently moving forward," said Wetzel.
Users can expect the dashboard to be offline for 30 days while the DOC updates its system of reporting and prepares for the addition of new data points related to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
"Clear communication and transparency have been critical tools for allowing the department to navigate this deadly pandemic," Wetzel said. "Since the onset, it has been my priority to ensure that the families, advocates, and partners who are cut-off from those in our custody receive the accurate and timely data that they need – both to continue their missions and to quell their understandable fears."
During the 30 days, the methodology for collecting and reporting data will be receiving a thorough evaluation by the Bureau of Planning, Research & Statistics (PRS). The dashboard was originally designed to report testing for one type of test for a virus that has grown to unforeseen proportions. The legacy system in place required that all data entry be done manually, and as cases and testing capacity increased, the unanticipated volume of data and the overwhelming demand for varying data-sets led to a greater number of errors and a lag in reporting.
To mitigate these errors, the department will be transitioning to an automated reporting system that will ensure greater accuracy and remove the human element required by the manual system.
In lieu of the dashboard, you can continue to find the daily COVID-19 data updates on the DOC website. To learn more about the DOC's efforts to mitigate COVID-19 in its system, please visit https://www.cor.pa.gov/Pages/COVID-19.aspx.
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