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Delayed COVID data creates the illusion of case increase

Data delay won't hinder Kern orange tier stride
Coronavirus Kern County
Posted at 5:03 PM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 20:17:33-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — As more people get vaccinated and the economy slowly reopens it might seem like things are returning to normal. Last week 23ABC learned the county dealt with delayed reporting for COVID-19 infections and deaths.

Monday Kern County Public Health says there were 33 new cases of COVID-19. This marks more than 107,000 for the county since the pandemic started. But this relatively low number of cases comes after higher numbers last week.

Numbers jumped on Friday with 260 infections reported that day. That's when public health says it was seeing a delay in data reporting. Then on Saturday and Sunday numbers were close to 200 each day. Monday the cases dropped to 33 new infections.

When it comes to coronavirus-related deaths public health says there were no new deaths Monday. The county has seen 1,300 deaths since the start of the pandemic. But as the county moves closer to the orange tier can the delayed data case cause any issues?

Michelle Corson, Kern County Public Health

According to Kern County Public Health spokeswoman Michelle Corson, the delayed cases don't really impact the county at all because they were from so long ago.

"Our numbers are looking fantastic as you can see. We are moving in the right direction," said Corson. "We are absolutely on target. We feel optimistic about movement into the orange tier."
Monday's figures added to the optimism as only 33 cases were reported with no new deaths.

But this comes after an apparent increase in cases over the weekend which appeared to be a possible roadblock for the county's stride into the next tier. According to the state dashboard figures like that haven't been seen since February in Kern County.

COVID Metrics

"We are not concerned with this at all," said Corson.

Corson says the majority of those numbers are not real-time stats but rather a product of delayed reporting. She says that the state will not penalize the county for the delayed figures because it does not fall within the current timeline being reviewed by state officials.

"There could be a variety of reasons why a local provider has a delay in getting some of these to us. This was all a rare occurrence. This has all been flowing very nicely."

Corson also mentioned that COVID-19 testing rates have gone down since the winter surge. She says Tuesday the state will update exactly what those rates look like.

In regards to if public health is expecting any other possible delays in reporting of covid positive cases, they said that it isn't something that they can anticipate but that it hasn't been common in recent months. Corson says what happened this weekend was abnormal.

The county is grappling with the backlog in data as it prepares for a move into the orange tier. Public health told 23ABC the new numbers won't impact that transition.

While new COVID-19 infections do factor into the move public health says the county has met the criteria when it comes to case rate.

Kern's case rate is currently 5.3 cases per 100,000 people. The trigger for the orange tier is 5.9 cases per 100,000 people.

Kern's COVID-19 positivity rate is 2.3 percent. The criteria for the orange tier is a positivity rate of 4.9 percent.

Kern could move into the orange tier on April 14th.