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Technical issue causes lag in coronavirus case reporting

Riverside County health officials urge the public to stay vigilant in protecting themselves from the coronavirus, despite an appearance the disease is slowing locally.

There is currently a technical issue with the California Department of Public Health’s electronic disease reporting system. Electronic laboratory reporting is not being submitted to the California Reportable Disease Information Exchange system in a real-time manner. Riverside County’s positive cases in recent days may appear that the numbers are holding steady or flattening, but that’s simply not true, said Riverside County Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari.

“This is an integration, technical issue,” said Saruwatari. “Simply put, there is a significant lag in how the information is being fed into the system. We’re anticipating significant increases in case reporting this week.”

Saruwatari said the delay impacts how public health workers can chase down cases for investigation, contact tracing and, ultimately, controlling the disease. The county’s testing positivity rate is also impacted by the delay.
Hospitalization and death rates are not impacted as they are reported directly to the county through different systems.

The California Department of Public Health informed public health departments of the delay in an email on August 1. The CDPH informed local agencies that it is committed to resolving the issue as quickly as possible and has “urgently escalated this issue to leadership.”

“We’re hopeful this technical issue will be resolved quickly so we can continue our fight to protect our county residents,” said Saruwatari.

A total of 737 residents have succumbed to COVID-19 and roughly 425 residents are currently being cared for in Riverside County hospitals. More than 38,000 have tested positive for the virus in Riverside County.

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