SACRAMENTO (AP) – California began adding additional coronavirus cases to its public record Tuesday, a week after state officials acknowledged a data problem in late July had caused nearly 300,000 records not to appear in its health system.
The state reported 12,500 confirmed cases, up sharply from its previous 14-day average. But it was not clear on what dates the confirmed cases were found.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly has said the backlogged cases would be applied to each date they were recorded so California’s data-tracking system would be accurate. But the additional numbers were included as part of the state total Tuesday, making it difficult to assess the overall infection rate.
A spokeswoman for the California Department of Public Health, Ali Bay, said the data was still being processed and she could not say when reporting dates and positivity rates would be updated.
The data glitch has been embarrassing for the state of 40 million people, which relies on timely statistics to determine whether schools and businesses can reopen. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has pledged repeatedly to make decisions based on data, dodged questions Monday about the abrupt resignation Sunday night of Dr. Sonia Angell as director and state public health officer at the California Department of Public Health.
Ghaly said last week that the problem began with a computer server outage July 25 and was compounded by the state’s failure to renew a 2-year-old certificate for an intermediary for one of the nation’s largest commercial labs, meaning the state did not receive updates for five days from Quest Diagnostics.
He said the governor had called for an investigation and that the administration would hold people to account.
Statewide, nearly 10,500 people have died from the coronavirus, with the great majority in Los Angeles County. There are more than 570,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to state data, although the number of infections is thought to be higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some – especially older adults and people with existing health problems – it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press.