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State data issues leave county health officer ‘feeling blind’

Statewide technical issues resulting in incomplete Covid-19 testing data have left Santa Clara County “back to feeling blind,” County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said in a news conference Wednesday.

Cody said the lack of data makes her feel like the county has regressed to what it was in February and March when there wasn’t enough testing and data to indicate the impacts of the virus.

The county’s current cumulative case count is over 11,000, according to the county dashboard, but cases have been significantly underreported since mid-July because of the glitch in the California Reportable Disease Information Exchange (CalREDIE) disease reporting system.

Cody said:

“We don’t know how the epidemic is trending. We don’t know where it’s heading, how fast it’s growing.”

Though the case count shows a trend downward, Cody expects that case count to increase up after the complete data is processed.

Jesse Garnier SFBay Covid-19 dashboard highlighting cumulative cases in Santa Clara County, Calif. as of Tuesday, August 4, 2020.

However, Cody indicated that countywide hospitalization rates have declined in the last few weeks. Since July 13, the county has had an average daily death rate of 1 to 2 people, according to the county dashboard.

Cody said:

“While we again can’t interpret what our last two weeks of data mean as far as the cases, the last week or two of hospitalization data is somewhat reassuring that things are leveling off. But it is not enough to really know.”

If data indicates a substantial spike after it is completely processed, Cody said the county may impose stricter health orders, similar to ones from March.

The state is still diagnosing the technical problem, but Cody said it appears that the electronic lab results were not properly routed into the state’s system. The health officer also added that the county has offered to assist the state to fix the technical issues.

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