Just when state officials were offering a glimmer of hope in fighting the pandemic, it turns out that a computer issue may have resulted in the state undercounting COVID-19 cases.
It was announced Monday that the state had seen a 21% drop in the seven-day infection rate from the week before. However, Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said that the state was not receiving a full report of tests, positive or not, because of an issue with the electronic lab reporting system. It is not clear how long the issue has been going on.
The issue may also be impacting local counts.
Health officials in several counties have now posted disclaimers on their coronavirus reporting sites, warning that the apparent drop in cases may not be accurate.
"The seven-day positivity rate is absolutely affected by this," Dr. Ghaly said. "We are in parallel working with our lab partners to get the same information in a manual form to local health officials, those who are doing contact tracing, so that we can begin - or continue to do - that very important work and reduce transmissions across the state."
State officials have repeatedly stressed that pandemic strategies were based heavily on the latest science and case counts. The news that the state is not getting complete lab results may very well throw those strategies into disarray.
However, officials said that hospitalization and ICU numbers, which are not impacted by the glitch, also seem to be leveling off after the state saw a record number of fatalities last week.