California officials: Technical glitch led to unreported COVID-19 cases

Posted at 5:16 PM, Aug 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-08 09:28:55-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — California officials said Friday that a technical glitch caused data on hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 tests to go unreported.

Despite the inaccurate data, officials say they are still seeing a trend showing a decrease in case rates. Hospitalization and death data, however, is collected differently and unaffected by the glitch.

According to the state, the data system they use failed and that led to inaccurate case numbers and case positivity rates. That failure prevented counties from having some of the data they need to monitor and respond to the virus in local communities, like contact tracing.

The state says that about two weeks ago, a server outage created a delay in lab records coming into the reporting system. At the same time, they realized they weren't getting data from one of the largest commercial reporting labs for about five days.

California Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly says the issues have been fixed.

"We expect that over the next 24 to 48 hours that the backlog that's between 250,000 to 300,000 cases will be resolved, giving us a better sense of the number of tests that were delayed," Ghaly told reporters on Friday. "We are reporting this data to the counties based on the date the specimen was collected so we can attribute it to the appropriate date."

The state says the system was not built for the volume of data it's receiving. It's putting new systems in place and has created a backup system to double-check the data and reports.

California's County Monitoring Watch List was paused last week so that the glitch does not play a role in decision making about county statuses.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered an investigation into what happened with the reporting system.