California fixed COVID-19 data glitch; backlog to be resolved within 2 days, top health official says

California

A top California health official says a technical glitch that caused a lag in collecting coronavirus test information has been fixed, but it could take up to 48 hours to get the data updated.

Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly says up to 300,000 records might have been backlogged — but not all of them are coronavirus cases and some may be duplicates.

Ghaly says the problem began with a computer server outage in late July.

Officials had instituted technical changes to deal with the outage, but the changes were not disabled once the server issue was resolved, causing further delays, Ghaly said.

Simultaneously, officials discovered they had not received data from one of the largest commercial labs between July 31 and Aug. 4 because the state had neglected to renew its certificate in a timely manner.

“Simply put, the CalREDIE system was not built for this volume of data,” Ghaly said. “In order to create a lasting solution, we are accelerating the development of a new laboratory reporting system for COVID-19.”

The state will conduct an investigation into what went wrong and “hold people accountable,” Ghaly said.

County health officials say they’ve been flying blind, unable to conduct robust contact tracing or monitor health factors without timely information.

Despite the lag in numbers, Ghaly said officials believe overall COVID-19 trends remain consistent, with case rates and hospitalizations showing slight decreases.

Although the data failure led to inaccurate case numbers and positivity rates, and prevented counties from properly tracking the virus’ spread, officials say no changes to the state’s policies were based on the incomplete information.

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