LA County Public Health Officials Say COVID-19 Testing Data May Be Flawed, Keeping Businesses, Schools on County Watch List

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By KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO
LA County public health officials are concerned about a backlog in COVID-19 test results that may be affecting state and local data and contact-tracing efforts.
 
"We are really worried about the fact that we are losing some cases and that may, in fact, result in some small increases in transmission in the weeks ahead," Barbara Ferrer, the county's public health director, said.
 
Without the most accurate data, businesses and schools that could reopen will remain on the county's watch list. 
 
Gov. Gavin Newsom has added or removed counties across the state based on a number of factors, but COVID-19 test positivity is one of the major pieces in the puzzle. 
 
Ferrer says it's unclear how great the backlog is, but it may extend back as far as two weeks.
 
She notes that the problems with the state's electronic laboratory system is not preventing people from getting their own test results.
 
"We are urging people to call us if they know that they are positive and we haven't called them," Ferrer said.
 
For now, Ferrer says, that's the only way the county can do contact-tracing on the cases not being reported by the state.
 
"We can only contact-trace when we actually have a positive lab result that's reported to us and that we have accurate information to find the person who is positive," she said.
 
Based on the data currently available to the county, close to 198,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
 

LA County pub health officials concerned backlog in #COVID19 test results from state is affecting local data & contact-tracing efforts. DPH Dir Barbara Ferrer says it may result in "small increases in transmission in the weeks ahead." @KNX1070

— Claudia Peschiutta (@ReporterClaudia) August 5, 2020

Ferrer adds county is working on a backup system to get results directly from the labs and hopes to start getting accurate case counts by the end of the week. Asking labs to go back a week to catch cases that have been missed. @KNX1070 https://t.co/C77neYqScO

— Claudia Peschiutta (@ReporterClaudia) August 5, 2020