A medical worker at Wyckoff Hospital in Brooklyn on April 4. Photo: Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched two new national tracking tools for the novel coronavirus in the U.S. on Saturday — one to monitor fatalities and another for hospitalizations.

Why it matters: The coronavirus testing kit shortage has challenged public health experts' ability to understand the scope of the outbreak in the U.S., NPR reports. States have scrambled to produce their own systems and monitor the data.

Driving the news: Deaths caused by pneumonia associated with COVID-19 have risen sharply since February, while deaths caused by influenza "increased modestly through early March" and declined the week of March 28, the agency said.

Details: The agency's hospitalization tracker currently covers roughly 32 million people, or 10% of the U.S. population. The data covered by the CDC is subject to change as more information becomes available.

  • The highest hospitalization rates in the U.S. are currently for those 65 years and older followed by those between 50 and 64 years old.
  • The national percentage of respiratory specimen testing positive for COVID-19 is 16.5% at public health labs and 8.8.% at clinical labs, the CDC reports. Commercial labs are not included in that roundup.

Be smart: Deaths recorded by the CDC's national system rely on completed death certificates, which can take anywhere from 1 to 8 weeks to be fully processed and included in the data set, the agency says.

  • But, the data breaks down COVID-19 deaths by age range — a helpful measure of what demographics are impacted.
  • The CDC has recorded the most coronavirus deaths in those 85 years and older, and Americans between 55 to 85 years old are still facing higher fatality rates than younger Americans.

What's next: The CDC will begin releasing weekly summaries of the data, alongside statistics on outpatient visits, ER visits and how many specimens of the virus have been tested to date.

Go deeper... U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 8,000

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Updated 51 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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