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ADPH: Coronavirus numbers skewed by lab delays

Health officials say reporting backlog has created ‘lag time’

News Staff Writer

Although the latest figures from Alabama Department of Health (ADPH) and Escambia County Healthcare Authority show a continued increase in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Escambia County, ADPH officials reported this week that those numbers are not a true reflection of the virus’s actual spread.
“Due to the large increase in volume of COVID-19 laboratory results being processed by laboratories (state public health labs, commercial labs, hospital labs, etc.) and sent to state health departments, the national surveillance pipeline is becoming overwhelmed and is causing delays,” the press release reads.
The skewed numbers are blamed on “a reporting backlog,” causing the ADPH dashboard to display sizeable increases in all numbers. The reason is that “there has been a lag time in adding some reports,” state health officials reported.
According to a second ADPH press release, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state public health agency and its vendor have reportedly resolved the issues related to delays in the national surveillance system, which became overwhelmed last week due to a large increase in the volume of COVID-19 laboratory results.
With that admittance in mind, figures released Tuesday, June 9, by ECHCA officials show that 54 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed at Atmore Community Hospital, up three from last Friday’s report.
More than two dozen specimens (28) had been collected since then, with 32 more negative results and the outcome of 13 tests still pending. Two instances of inconclusive results have resulted.
D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital in Brewton reported two new confirmed cases, bringing its total to 9. The hospital has taken 308 samples, with 289 negative results.
ADPH shows that 88 Escambia County residents out of 1,439 tested have been confirmed as having COVID-19.
A graph accompanying Tuesday’s report shows a dramatic statewide decrease in the number of confirmed cases.