Georgia Department of Public Health issues statement on the problems with COVID Daily Status Report and their resolution

Labeled coronavirus image from the CDC; labeled with E Proteins, S proteins and M proteinsCDC/ Alissa Eckert, MSMI; Dan Higgins, MAMS

The Georgia Department of Public Health issued the following statement about the problems with the Electronic Laboratory Reporting system that caused updates to be delayed for several days:

Atlanta – The Georgia Department of Public Health’s (DPH) Daily Status Report updated as scheduled today and accurately reflects case and test data. Issues with electronic laboratory reporting (ELR) that were identified last week have been thoroughly investigated and the problem fixed. It is important to note that data for case counts, hospitalizations, and deaths come from sources other than ELR, and as such were not impacted by the problem.

Background

Everyday tens of thousands of records are reported to DPH through ELR. Laboratory reports are assigned an ELR classification – they are categorized as positive or negative or inconclusive. If a laboratory report has incorrect or incomplete information, the system does not assign an ELR classification. Reports that do not receive a classification are further reviewed and manually classified.

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Over the course of the pandemic response, ~2.6M reports have required manual classification.

The Problem

Due to ongoing high transmission rates of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, and the associated increase in testing, the system processing ELR became overwhelmed by the unprecedented number of reports coming in over New Year’s weekend. The system came to a near standstill. Processes that would normally take 3 minutes were taking 5 hours to complete.

To speed up those processes, a change was made to the coding application. As a result of that change, all reports were recounted from the beginning of the pandemic response. The recount included the 2.6M reports that required manual classification as if they had never been manually categorized, and date stamped them January 4, 2022. Those 2.6M reports were incorrectly reflected in the “PCR/Molecular Reported Today” column on the Daily Status Report; and upon further investigation, they also appeared in charts and graphs where information was sorted by collection date, in this case, January 4, 2022.

Out of an abundance of caution, updates to the Daily Status Report were suspended.

The Resolution

Once the coding issue was identified as the root cause of the problem, it was fixed, and extensive testing and verification of the system was completed over the past four days. The dashboard updated today at 3 p.m. on its normal schedule. Today’s dashboard reflects all data since the last update on January 5, 2022, resulting in very high numbers. 

DPH’s goal is to present accurate and transparent data about COVID-19 in Georgia. Thank you for your continued patience as DPH actively works to upgrade systems that are processing extraordinary volumes of data each day.

For more data on COVID in Cobb County and statewide

Cobb & Douglas Public Health runs the case rate on their home page, although it is not updated frequently.

Visit the Cobb & Douglas Public Health home page by following this link

A more frequently updated summary of the statistics on COVID for Cobb County is the CDC’s County View page for Cobb County. The numbers come from the Georgia Department of Public Health but are displayed in a much easier-to-read way than the sprawling GDPH website. From this page you can get the one-week figures on the number of new cases, case rate per 100,000 of population, hospitalizations, deaths, and the percentage change from the previous 7-day period. It also includes data on testing and vaccination rates.

Visit the CDC County View page for Cobb County by following this link

The Georgia Department of Public Health publishes a daily status report on the pandemic every afternoon at around 3 p.m. It’s a comprehensive report with extensive data and charts arranged statewide and by county, that also includes age breakdowns, racial demographics, and data on vaccination and testing.

It isn’t the easiest system to navigate, but it’s worth spending time learning how to use if you’re interested in getting the latest statewide and local data on the state of COVID-19.

Visit the Georgia Department of Public Health Daily Status Report by following this link

To get an overview of how much the pandemic is stressing the hospital systems in terms of ER visits, hospital bed capacity, and ventilator use, there is a Hospital Bed and Ventilator Use report with interactive maps. The map is organized by hospital region, and Cobb County is part of Region N.

Visit the Georgia Hospital Beds and Ventilator Report by following this link

To get data on what percentage of patients in Georgia hospitals were admitted for COVID-19 versus all other causes, there is a Georgia Medical Facility Patient Census. It also reports numbers by statewide and hospital region.

Visit the Georgia Medical Facility Patient Census by following this link

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