North Carolina continues to be in Phase 2 of the statewide shutdown mandated by Gov. Roy Cooper at least until Sept. 11.
Cooper has stated repeatedly that his decisions are based on “the science, the data and the facts,” but recent events have called that data into question.
The people of North Carolina keep seeing reports that the data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) was flawed and needed to be corrected.
The explanations for the corrections include “data” about how the test results are “faxed” to NCDHHS where they have to be typed into the system.
Receiving information by telephonic transmission of scanned printed material or fax was pretty hot technology 30 years ago.
The mistakes being reported by NCDHHS are not a few cases here or there; those are reportedly fixed regularly without any notice to the public. The report on Saturday, Aug. 29 that 2,500 new cases were reported was inflated by 1,000 cases according to NCDHHS. But even though NCDHHS knew that it was a bogus number, it was there on the website as if it actually represented the number of new cases. The cases have since been distributed to the correct dates earlier in August.
Earlier an error resulted in 221,000 more tests being reported than had been completed.
NCDHHS has also reported that out of state data from labs has been mixed in with North Carolina data.
NCDHHS has a “Dashboard” on its website that is supposed to keep the public informed of the latest information in the state on COVID-19, but if you read the fine print the “Dashboard” is not complete information.
The percent of positive tests is considered a key metric. However, according to the NCDHHS website, “Reporting positive laboratory test to NCDHHS is mandatory. However, reporting the total number of tests conducted, including negative tests is not required. Therefore total tests come from labs that [are] voluntarily reporting them.”
It also states that “more than 60%” of the labs report both positive and negative tests, which also means that somewhere around 40 percent do not.
It’s impossible for someone to check the figures on the percent positive, because the information on the Dashboard is not the same information NCDHHS is using.
The notation on the Dashboard about testing states, “Aggregate testing data is provided by labs daily via manual communications. This is what NCDHHS uses to post the daily and cumulative report of total tests performed. NCDHHS has been working to improve data reporting processes to minimize redundancy with all labs to move to reporting exclusively through NC EDSS [North Carolina Electronic Disease Surveillance System] to improve data integrity.”
People’s jobs and businesses depend on decisions being made from this data that NCDHHS states needs to be improved.