DHS launches updated COVID-19 variant tracker dashboard

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has launched a new data dashboard breaking down the presence of COVID-19 variants throughout the state.

In addition to the total number of variant cases confirmed statewide, the new dashboard includes information about each variant’s prevalence in each of Wisconsin’s seven Health Care Emergency Readiness Coalition (HERC) regions.

“With new variants spreading in Wisconsin, we are updating our variant data page to include more detail about where these variants are being detected,” DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said. “Because these new variants of concern spread more easily than the original strain of SARS-CoV-2, it is important to get vaccinated when you are able. Vaccines, along with our other public health practices, give the virus less of an opportunity to spread and mutate.”

To date, DHS has identified five variants of concern that have been flagged as such because they spread more quickly than the original COVID-19 virus.

The new data tables show the proportion of sequenced viruses that are attributed to each of the variants. The proportional data gives residents a better understanding of how common each variant is in each region, officials said.

Variants are identified via a process called whole genome sequencing, which takes a sample of the virus from a positive COVID-19 test and analyzes its genetic code. DHS, the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene and other labs routinely perform genome sequencing on a portion of positive tests.

More information about the updated dashboard is available here.