HAVERHILL — If you live or work in Haverhill and find yourself wondering how the city's COVID-19 numbers are shaping up, wonder no more.
All it takes is a few clicks on a computer keyboard and your questions will be answered.
Health officials have begun updating the city's website daily with the latest local information about COVID-19, including the number of new cases in the community and the number of active cases, Mayor James Fiorentini said.
This new website feature is in response to City Councilor John Michitson's suggestion that Haverhill create a "dashboard" showing charts and graphs of COVID-19 information, similar to a presentation posted on the city of Revere's website.
Such a presentation is called a dashboard because like a dashboard in a car, it allows viewers to see a variety of key information by glancing at one spot.
Haverhill's decision to make daily postings of local COVID-19 information comes as the city had 31 new cases in the week of Aug. 29 to Sept. 4. According to a state Department of Public Health formula, that increase in cases pushed Haverhill from the low-risk "green'' category to the moderate-risk "yellow'' category.
City officials said 17 of the 31 cases recorded the week of Aug. 29 to Sept. 4 are due to clusters, which is defined as a concentration of cases in the same area of the city at the same time. For example, several of the cases reported that week were in the same family.
The mayor said Haverhill has increased its efforts to present more timely information to the public on the city website because Haverhill lacks the technical resources to create the kind of elaborate "dashboard'' suggested by Michitson.
Haverhill's daily updates can be found online at cityofhaverhill.com under a link to "Coronavirus Information (COVID-19).'' The updates include the following coronavirus information for Haverhill: the total case count since March, the number of new cases reported daily, the number of deaths locally, the number of people currently hospitalized, the total number of people who have recovered and the number of active cases.
The mayor said he's looking for ways to improve the site to keep the public as informed as possible about the effects of the virus on the city.
Michitson said he would like Haverhill to have a "citizens dashboard" providing the public with more information about COVID-19 so people can make informed decisions about their health and safety.
He said the mayor's decision to include daily updates on the city website is a start, but does not meet the intent of a comprehensive dashboard.
"I look forward to the full dashboard to give Haverhill citizens critical information on the pandemic (so they can) make key decisions for their family’s well being," Michitson said.
He said the dashboard he envisions would include information such as the number of new COVID-19 cases in Haverhill in the past 14 days, the average daily incident rate, how many people have been tested locally, how many of those tests were positive, and other coronavirus-related information.
"My objective was simple," Michitson said. "What relative, objective data from reputable, independent sources do you need on a daily basis to shape your behaviors to best protect you, your family and communities as we work, learn and play during COVID-19?''
Fiorentini told Michitson that he liked the idea of a dashboard with extensive COVID-19 information, but that Haverhill lacks the in-house technical capability of creating one at this time. The city did the next best thing by deciding to post the most recent local information daily, Fiorentini said.
"I'd love to do it," Fiorentini said of Michitson's proposal, noting that he likes Revere's dashboard because it is well organized and not simply a jumble of information.
In addition to daily numbers, Haverhill's website also contains links to sites such as a COVID-19 test site locator, coronavirus updates from the state, information from the national Centers for Disease Control and other resources.