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Zip code-level data released on the susceptibility to severe COVID-19 complications

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MADISON, Wis. — There’s a new interactive tool out that will help local public health officials track coronavirus cases in your zip code.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health are giving public health officials access to zip code-level data on the susceptibility of residents to severe complications from COVID-19, according to a release.

The data breaks down the number of people in a zip code that could develop severe complications.

The release said the data will help health officials and health systems help with “hospitalizations, distribute protective equipment or target communications to at-risk populations.”

The research comes out of the Health Innovation Program, a research program within the School of Medicine and Public Health. The data was provided by the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality, a network representing 65% of Wisconsin’s primary care physicians.

It’s all based on risk factors identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Risk factors include being over 65 years old, having underlying conditions or conditions that compromise the immune system.

“I wanted to create a tool that could help inform the decisions and planning for COVID-19 that are taking place in communities across Wisconsin to support their readiness preparations,” said Jessica Bonham-Werling, director of the Neighborhood Health Partnerships program, which prepared the report. “Local decision makers in government and health systems are under unbelievable pressure and data is of critical importance to them to help them anticipate where resources will be needed most over the weeks and potentially months ahead.”

The reports will help decision makers plan COVID-19 responses and decide where to direct resources.

The reports will be widely accessible throughout the state. The Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality is sharing the data with participating health care systems. The Wisconsin Public Health Research Network will share the reports with more than 270 organizations, academic institutions and health departments.

“Providing information to our members about this rich new resource developed by researchers and tailored to answering questions public health professionals have is one way we are trying to support the public health community during this pandemic and beyond,” said Susan Zahner, Wisconsin Public Health Research Network co-chair and associate dean for faculty affairs in the School of Nursing.

Portions of the data will be available to the public. The reports to health officials provide more in-depth information.

The release said some counties, especially in northwestern Wisconsin, didn’t have enough information.

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