Santa Clara County health officer 'anxious' about incomplete COVID-19 data

Santa Clara County's top health leader Dr. Sara Cody said on Wednesday that there is much uncertainty on which direction COVID-19 rates are trending as California's data reporting system hit a technical glitch. 

CalREDIE, also known as California Reportable Disease Information Exchange, is used by state and local health departments to tally up coronavirus test results, but recent data from the registry system may be flawed. 

Santa Clara County went through of period of law case counts between April and May, sometimes reporting only one new case. But as the county lifted restrictions in June, health officials noticed a gradual increase in COVID-19 rates that began to accelerate through mid-July. 

But then, out of nowhere in mid-July, virus infections started to decline. Cody said data for the last few weeks of July could be an undercount as a result of technical issues with the state's data reporting system. 

At this critical point in the crisis, some health officials feel left in the dark. 

"Just as we had back in February and March when we didn't have enough testing, we felt blind. I would say that right now we're back to feeling blind," Cody said. "We don't know how the epidemic is trending. It's not just inconvenient, but this lack of data doesn't allow us to know where the epidemic is heading, how fast its growing or not."

Cody explained that the problem seems to be the juncture between electronic laboratory reports coming in and them being routed into the data collection system. 

The state is working on a diagnosis but hasn't said when it expects to have the issue resolved. 

Once the issue is fixed, Santa Clara County health officers anticipate the total of coronavirus cases will increase, but they don't know to what extent.