SACRAMENTO – The state’s top health official says that a backlog in COVID19 test results was caused by a technology failure on July 25, when a server outage created a delay in lab records coming into the state’s reporting system.
Speaking to reporters in a press briefing Friday. Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Health, and Human Services Secretary said that the backlog created was between 250,000 and 300,000 unprocessed health records, many of them COVID-19 test results.
Ghaly said that officials had also not realized that while the server outage had delayed results in the system which led to under-reporting, which he noted was used for all types of critical health issues that need tracking, there had been data missing from one of the largest labs responsible for testing results during that 5 day period.
Working through the backlog is expected to take 24 to 48 hours, he said and noted that not all of the records affected were coronavirus test samples. Ghaly said that the group of records may also include some duplicates, which officials are currently working to sort out to eliminate.
In Washington on Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious diseases expert, said that an approved coronavirus vaccine could end up being effective only 50-60% of the time, meaning public health measures will still be needed to keep the pandemic under control, Reuters reported.
“We don’t know yet what the efficacy might be. We don’t know if it will be 50% or 60%. I’d like it to be 75% or more,” Fauci said.“But the chances of it being 98% effective is not great, which means you must never abandon the public health approach.”
COVID-19 has infected nearly 5 million people in the United States and killed more than 160,000 since the pandemic began in earnest in late February.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed 54 new deaths and 3,116 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, but also noted that the department anticipates a continued reporting of a backlog of cases as the State electronic laboratory system (ELR) reporting delay is addressed. Data sources that track other key indicators, including hospitalizations and deaths, are not affected by this reporting issue.
There are 1,680 confirmed cases currently hospitalized and 30% of these people are confirmed cases in the ICU. Currently, the County is seeing a downward trend in the number of daily hospitalizations. Last week, Public Health reported more than 2,000 daily hospitalizations.
To date, Public Health identified 204,167 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County, and a total of 4,918 deaths. Testing results are available for more than 1,893,000 individuals with 10% of all people testing positive.
“We remain guided by science and data that can be used appropriately to move us forward along the road to recovery in a measured way. The lower number of daily hospitalizations we are seeing is an indicator that we are making some progress. However, we need to see lower rates and our future success depends on commitments we each make every day about doing our part, working together and sustaining efforts that get us to the other side of this pandemic.,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health said.
“Our collective goals of slowing the spread of this virus and reopening and keeping open vital community and economic sectors means we must put off the parties, gatherings, and trips to crowded places in order to get to low community transmission rates so we can re-open our schools and get more people back to work,” she added.
California has surpassed 10,000 deaths from the coronavirus, making it the U.S. state with the third-highest number of deaths since the pandemic broke out earlier this year, the Associated Press reported.
According to the AP, the figure was reported Friday, with 10,024 dead since the coronavirus was detected in California in February.
New York and New Jersey have the highest and second-highest number of deaths in the U.S. at 32,000 and 16,000, respectively.
Additional reporting from the Associated Press and Reuters