A steep decline in California’s coronavirus infection rate announced this week by Gov. Gavin Newson may not be accurate, according to the state’s top public health official who said Tuesday that the state’s data system used to process COVID-19 test results is marred with technical issues.
The snafus have caused delays in analyzing test results and cast doubt on Newsom’s announcement Monday of a 21.2% decline in the seven-day average rate for positive infections compared to the average from the week before.
California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said that “the seven-day positivity rate is absolutely affected” by the issue. It’s unclear to what extent and for how long cases have been undercounted, and how this situation differs from the more routine delays when test reporting lags over weekends.
Los Angeles public health officials last week warned that it was expecting a backlog in cases “due to previous reporting delays in the state electronic lab system.” The following day, the county reported highs of 4,825 new coronavirus cases and 91 deaths. Other counties, including Sacramento, Placer and Orange — which reported 263 additional cases Tuesday and two deaths — have recently included a warning on their dashboards that case counts may not be accurate.
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