Data delay blamed for large daily COVID-19 increase in Missouri

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced a record-breaking 773 new cases of COVID-19 Monday.

However, St. Louis Pandemic Task Force leader Dr. Alex Garza said a “data dump” is the reason for the large number of cases reported in a single day.

“This happens sometimes where there could be a big data dump,” Dr. Garza said. “So, it looks like there’s a large increase but it’s really just data catching up with the health departments.”

Not all of the cases had occurred in the 24-hour time span either.

“When I was looking at the data over the weekend, there was zeroes there,” Dr. Garza said. “So, there was a big data dump (Monday).”

Garza also said he thought he noticed a large jump in COVID-19 cases in St. Charles but it turned out to be delayed data as well.

“I noticed St. Charles had over 100 cases yesterday, so I called them and was like ‘What’s going on?’ and they said they didn’t get any over the weekend, so it was just a big dump,” he said.

There’s nearly 9,500 cases of COVID-19 reported in St. Louis City and County, but Dr. Garza said the data seems to be on track to normalize again.

“We feel pretty comfortable that there wasn’t this huge spike, it was really a reporting issue,” Dr. Garza said.

The St. Louis City Health Department also spoke out about the data reporting issue Tuesday.

“The City of St. Louis Department of Health (DOH) is alerting the community of continued delays at some commercial laboratories in processing COVID-19 tests results.

“The Department of Health has also been advised that the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has a backlog of COVID-19 cases that have not been entered in its database. Reporting delays present a barrier to preventing the spread of the virus. Positive test results trigger isolation and contact tracing, essential tools to preventing the spread of the COVID-19. Negative test results reduce and eliminate anxiety. Delayed reporting from the laboratories combined with delays in data entry at DHSS may also present inaccurate pictures of the impact of the virus when results are finally issued and the data entry backlog is resolved. Cases not being reported in a timely manner could appear as a resurgence when it’s really just how they are being reported. The City of St. Louis Department of Health will continue to provide updates on the status of the laboratory reporting delays and the DHSS data entry backlog.”

Garza said there is still a big question if the Fourth of July holiday weekend will lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Compared to Memorial Day, Garza said there were more chances for community transmission during the Fourth of July due to a larger number of COVID-19 cases present.

“More people are out and about and gathering in large groups, frequently alcohol is involved, people aren’t practicing social distancing, and wearing masks, it always makes us concerned about an increase in cases a couple of weeks down the road,” Dr. Garza said, when asked about a potential spike in cases after the holiday weekend.

He said the metro area administers roughly 2,500 COVID-19 tests each day.

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