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State glitch in COVID-19 reporting system could mean up to one-third of recent Sonoma County cases not counted

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A glitch in the statewide electronic system used by Sonoma County public health officials to report COVID-19 data could mean up to one-third of local coronavirus cases were not counted in the past week, local health officials said Tuesday.

The revelations about the state data came the same day that Sonoma County announced three more coronavirus-related deaths on a local data portal. The deaths were announced late Tuesday night and details were not immediately available.

Dr. Sundari Mase, the county’s health officer, said county public health staff use the statewide system to learn about positive COVID-19 tests that were not processed by the public health lab. About half of all tests done in the county are processed by commercial labs and health care providers.

The glitch is also preventing the county from providing accurate updates to its COVID-19 dashboard, which county officials use to monitor their performance. But Mase said she’s more worried about potential delays in reaching out to some Sonoma County residents that have tested positive for the virus.

“For me it's more the individual notification of cases and contact tracing that’s more worrisome,” Mase said.

Mase said tests done in the county’s contact tracing efforts, as well as its testing of high-risk individuals, health care workers and first responders, are all processed by the county public health lab and the state delays will not impact that work. The public health staff send between 300 to 400 tests a day to the county’s lab, she said.

State officials informed her that the problems with the system could go as far back as a week.

“They're trying to find out, figure out what the problem is,” she said. “As as soon as they have a handle on it, of course they're gonna fix it. But they can also tell us how far back the reporting has been affected.”

Mase said it’s hard to tell right now how the delay is affecting public health efforts at containing the virus. She said hundreds of daily state-funded tests being conducted by OptumServe in Santa Rosa and Petaluma. Those tests as well as some conducted at local skilled nursing facilities and local health clinics could be affected by CalREDIE’s technical problems.

Quest Diagnostics, a commercial testing laboratory, reports its data to CalREDIE and that information is later accessed by local public health staff, she said. Data from about 40 other state-approved labs also is sent to the state’s electronic reporting system, she said.

“We won’t know until we know what’s missing,” she said. “We only know who is positive through Quest, and that’s all of OptumServe testing, because they put it in CalREDIE.”

The CalREDIE electronic system allows for 24/7 reporting, and its stated purpose is to “improve the efficiency of surveillance activities and the early detection of public health events through the collection of complete and timely surveillance information on a state wide basis.”

Sonoma County added a disclaimer to its COVID-19 website on Tuesday. The note states that the state provides the aggregate data to update several indicators on the county dashboard, “and they are currently experiencing delays. We will update this table when we receive new data from the state.”

Rohish Lal, a spokeman for the county’s Health Services Department, said data on the county’s COVID-19 website likely will be incomplete until the state fixes its CalREDIE problems.

Mase is scheduled to provide a COVID-19 update to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Thursday, but she said some of that data may be incomplete because of the problems the state is having with CalREDIE.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @pressreno.

Track coronavirus cases in Sonoma County, across California, the United States and around the world here.

For more stories about the coronavirus, go here.

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