State Technical Error Suspects COVID-19 Cases Severely Undercounted

By edhat staff

Santa Barbara County officials announced a technological error within the state’s COVID-19 reporting has severely undercounted cases.

On Monday night, the state informed all county public health departments of a technical issue causing a significant undercount of completed COVID-19 tests and test results throughout California, including the local level.

When tests are conducted throughout the state, information is inputted into the state’s California Reportable Disease Information Exchange (CalREDIE). While examining a steep decline in the number of tests completed and positive test results, the state discovered information was delayed into the system or not reported at all, said Supervisor Gregg Hart. 

“The result is a serious concern of a significant undercount of positive COVID-19 test results throughout California,” said Hart. “This statewide issue has likely affected the accuracy of our local numbers.”

In response, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is working with counties and labs to revert to a manual reporting system as well as upgrading servers and systems to validate reports. The backlog of numbers will process approximately 250,000 to 300,000 records statewide.

The state announced today it identified the sources of the technical failures and hope the system will be back online late next week.

In the meantime, the local Public Health Department (PHD) is working to manually record local case data and confirmed patient care and testing results have not been affected or delayed by this issue.

PHD Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso stated their department noticed glitches in the CalREDIE system long before they were contacted on Monday and were in constant communication with the state about the errors. 

“We are providing you with the best information that we currently have. I want to stress that our local data is underreporting of the actual number of tests performed, the case rate, and the testing positivity rates until the state resolves their data issues with electronic lab records and CalREDIE,” said Do-Reynoso.

Gatherings & Youth Sports

Health officials have previously urged local residents to partake in virtual-only celebrations of Old Spanish Days Fiesta this year. Earlier today they released a statement that the annual Fiesta Cruiser Run should not take place due to COVID-19 concerns.

Gatherings of any size, meaning anyone who is outside of your household, are not safe and mixing and mingling in the most common way to spread COVID-19, explained Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg.

“Fiesta needs to be a virtual event this year,” said Hart.

Dr. Ansorg also stated that all youth sports, whether school-based or through club and recreation, must be conditioning-based on individual skill building without the use of equipment.

When comparing the difference between school and youth sports, Dr. Ansorg explained that youth sports are only allowed under very narrow circumstances meaning it must be outdoors with zero contact between participants.

The Numbers As We Know It

The PHD is reporting the latest COVID-19 numbers, although the overall totals of positive cases and testing may change when the state’s technical glitch is updated.

PHD reports 58 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and an additional death bringing the county’s death toll to 69. The latest death was over 70 years of age with underlying health conditions and was a resident of Santa Maria.

The total case count is 6,704 with 198 active cases. There are currently 84 hospitalizations including 29 in the intensive care unit (ICU).

More information on data can be found here.

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