CSAC Bulletin Article

COVID-19 Case Reporting Error Identified

August 6, 2020

On the heels of Governor Newsom’s recent statement that the state’s positive case rate was declining slightly, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced this week that the state data is likely underreported due to a serious technological glitch.

The state was first alerted to possible discrepancies in the case reporting data by counties late last week and formally acknowledged it today. The “reporting discrepancies” have impacted the number of cases reported both statewide and in individual counties, hampering county contact tracing and other local public health efforts.

The good news is this glitch appears to be impacting only case reporting data, not hospitalization and ICU data. The bad news is the state does not know how long this case reporting discrepancy has been in effect – or when it will be fixed.

The state has deployed a team from the Department of Technology to assess the underlying code and is working with county public health departments and laboratories to obtain manual reporting of this critical piece of daily data. CSAC will continue to work with local health departments, CDPH, and the Newsom Administration to ensure accurate and timely case data for all counties.

Without real-time data on positive cases, local health departments are truly flying blind during this pandemic in the Golden State. 

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