Technology Issues to Blame for Countywide Drop in COVID Numbers

If you have recently been tested for the novel coronavirus, your results should have gotten to you within a few days. But according to information shared by the LA County Department of Public Health on Tuesday afternoon, those same results have been delayed in making their way to a state database, resulting in artificially low numbers of positive cases across LA County in recent days.

On Tuesday, there were 1,901 new cases reported in the county and 57 deaths.

The state has determined under reporting of COVID-19 cases due to technology issues with the electronic laboratory system (ELR),” a statement from LADPH described. “Public Health learned of new issues with the State ELR feed on an emergency call convened by the state last night [Monday, Aug. 3]. This issue has undercounted the county’s positive cases and affects the number of COVID-19 cases reported each day and our contact tracing efforts. 

“However, there should not be delays in patients being notified of lab results, as laboratories continue to report tests results directly to providers and hospitals,” the statement continued. According to the county, LADPH was asking labs to go as far back as July 26 to obtain data in order to bring case numbers up to date.

As of Tuesday evening, Aug. 4, there were a total of 80 confirmed positive cases among Malibu residents, although that number could rise as more results were released by the State of California. In addition, 90 cases were reported in the unincorporated Santa Monica Mountains, totaling 170 cases in the greater Malibu area.

In addition to six cases previously reported at Moonshadows Restaurant, one new case was reported at Paradigm Malibu, “a teen treatment center that offers teen depression treatment, teen anxiety treatment and teen drug rehab services,” according to its website. This was the first reported case of COVID-19 among Malibu’s numerous rehabilitation and treatment centers, according to data provided by the LADPH. 

Representatives for Paradigm Malibu were not immediately available to comment.

While case numbers lagged, the county reported that the tracking of key indicators like hospitalizations was not lagging.

“Public Health is reporting 1,757 confirmed cases currently hospitalized and 31 percent of these people are confirmed cases in the ICU,” the county wrote. “The number of hospitalizations has been lower in recent days and this is not due to any known reporting issues. Daily hospitalizations were over 2,000 patients last week.” Ninety-two percent of the people who died from COVID-19 had underlying health conditions.

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