Missing data means San Francisco COVID-19 cases likely 10 times higher, newspaper says

Laura Dyrda (Twitter) - Print  | 

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that lack of reliable data collection has led to artificially low numbers of coronavirus cases reported in California's Bay Area.

Five things to know:

1. The state records daily COVID-19 cases, and July was a record-breaking month for cases and deaths. But due to lack of resources, public health departments are unable to provide accurate case counts and information, leading public health officials to estimate the actual number of COVID-19 cases is 10 times higher than the reported number, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

2. Decades of underfunding meant that public health departments in California were unable to prepare for and respond to the pandemic adequately. Stanford epidemiologists Steven Goodman characterized the situation as "building data information systems while the plane is flying" because they weren't already in place.

3. In June, epidemiologists asked for data on individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 to learn more about how the disease spreads, but the state would not provide any data, citing privacy laws; blinding the information would take too much time and resources, according to the report.

4. California does not report the number of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases or break down cases by occupation or housing status.

5. California public health officials say they don't have enough staff to conduct detailed investigations into the outbreak and don't have the resources to bring in outside epidemiologists.

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Tennessee health department won't track COVID-19 data at schools as they reopen

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