This week, alarming language on Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 website cited a statewide issue with tracking and reporting virus cases:
“Due to a significant and unresolved problem with the State of California’s reporting system for communicable diseases (California Reportable Disease Information Exchange (CalREDIE)), the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department, as well as county public health departments statewide, are experiencing significant underreporting of COVID-19 testing results. The State has informed us that counties have received incomplete information regarding test results, which affects our ability to identify new cases of COVID-19, to accurately report the testing positivity rate in our community, and to identify the number of persons tested for the last few weeks. Without timely reports of all new lab results, it is impossible for State and local health officials to identify the extent to which COVID-19 is circulating in the community.”
Likewise, this past Tuesday, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly revealed without going into detail that the state hasn’t been receiving complete testing data. Right now, on the state’s COVID-19 website, a disclaimer undermines the available data by stating that it’s “an underreporting of actual positive cases.”
The foul-up has impacted counties across California.
In a press conference on the issue, health officer and public health director of Santa Clara County Dr. Sara Cody said, “We don’t know if our cases are rising, plateauing, or decreasing,” pointing out that the numbers have been underreported for the last few weeks.
“This lack of data doesn’t allow us to know where the epidemic is heading,” Cody explained.
Cody also mentioned that according to the County dashboard, it appears as though things have been getting better since mid-July, but due to the statewide technical issues, the data is not reliable. In Cody’s judgment, actual cases are higher than what has been reported.
Cody added that the lack of data makes her suspect that the County has regressed to the conditions of February and March, when there still wasn’t enough testing and data to track the spread of COVID-19.
Said Cody, “COVID is still here. It is still very much a threat, and it’s circulating widely in our community. And each of us still needs to do everything that we can to bring it under control.”