California has stopped removing or adding a list of counties facing more restrictions for businesses and schools because it is trying to determine the effects of an unresolved technical problem with the state’s coronavirus test database, the health attorney said Wednesday. The state has registered a maximum of 525,000 positive tests in the nation. But California health officials say the true number is even higher. They do not know how much until they can add backlogged test data and fix the problem with the California Reportable Disease Information Exchange (CalREDIE). The incomplete tasks in the country’s most populous state have hindered the public health ombudsman̵
California has stopped removing or adding a list of counties facing more restrictions for businesses and schools as it seeks to determine the effects of an unresolved technical issue with the state’s coronavirus testing database, health officials say.
The state has registered a top-in-the-nation 525,000 positive test. But California health officials say the true number is even higher. They do not know how much until they can add backlogged test data and fix the problem with the California Reportable Disease Information Exchange (CalREDIE).
The incomplete data in the country’s most populous state has hindered the public health ombudsman’s ability to follow up on those who test positive and contact people who have been around them to limit the spread.
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“Back in February and March when we didn’t have enough tests, I would say we felt blind,” says Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County Director of Public Health. “I would say now that we are back to being blind. We do not know how the epidemic trends. “
In Los Angeles County, which has a quarter of the state’s 40 million inhabitants, public health inspectors have reached out to laboratories to test data directly so that they are not dependent on the state. Barbara Ferrer, the county’s health director, said she hopes to have an updated case by the end of the week.
The CalREDIE system collects data from test labs around California. The state uses data such as infection rates to determine which counties land on a watch list. Countries must be removed from the list for 14 days in order to open certain companies and offer teaching in the classroom for undergraduate students. There are 38 counties on the list, including Los Angeles and all other major counties.
In a statement, the State Department of Public Health said it was working to “assess the impact of data problems on disease transmission scores,” no counties would be moved on or off the list “until further notice.”
The problem comes when California appears to be making progress toward an increase in infections that led Gov. Gavin Newsom last month to close bars and indoor restaurant restaurants statewide and close school campuses in large parts of the state. On Wednesday, the state reported only about 5,300 new virus cases, far from the peak of almost 13,000 reported about two weeks ago.
The state’s infection rate, a confusion about how much hospital admissions are likely to increase, has dropped rapidly over the past week, when the data problem became apparent. It stood at 5.5% on Wednesday, but it is unclear whether when additional data is added, the decline will be so pronounced.
Meanwhile, data on hospital admissions have been shown to improve. It is collected differently, and in the last two weeks has fallen by more than 12% to 6,184 patients.
County health officials say that without knowing how many cases are missing, it is difficult to know where the virus is going.
In Riverside County, public health representative Dr. Cameron Kaiser that the county’s virus frequency is now frozen at a level that is too high for primary schools to seek an exemption to open classrooms again. Kaiser told school officials in a letter that the state will not accept exemptions until the county has a reliable case and it is below the level required by the state – 200 cases for every 100.00 inhabitants. Riverside is now 202.
In San Francisco, public health officials receive test reports directly from labs so they are not dependent on the state to track or track cases, said Dr. George Rutherford, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco. But long delays can make contact tracking – seen as a critical tool to stop the spread of disease – pointless, he said.
“From a disease control point of view, the more time people have to walk around who are infected and contagious without being isolated, the more people will be exposed,” he said.
In Los Angeles County, Ferrer urged anyone who tests positive to call county health officials so they can conduct a contact tracing interview and identify those who may have been exposed so they can avoid infecting others.
“We are really concerned about the fact that we are losing some cases, and that it could actually result in some small increases in transmission in the coming weeks,” she said.
Associated Press author Olga Rodriguez of San Francisco and Adam Beam of Sacramento contributed to this report.