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Why there are flaws in the states reporting of covid-19 data and what you need to know this week

Globally, as of 11:55am EST, 14 August 2020, there have been 21 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 762 thousand deaths reported to WHO.

If you’re like me, you’ve been watching the daily data on the coronavirus pandemic in Delaware, Always looking for a glimmer of hope in the trajectories with the infected, the hospitalized, the recoveries, and the dead. If only there were more understanding to be had. The more I look at the numbers, the more I see their flaws.

Every week we see flaws in reporting but why? Most of the flaws we see comes from health officials changing surveillance systems, a manual verification of death certificates, and now a lack of proper training and reporting by the Department of Corrections.

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While the total cumulative number of positive cases has increased by 373 between Thursday and Friday, it is important to note that not all of these cases represent new infections reported yesterday according to a news release from the Department of Health.

According to data entered as of 6 p.m. Thursday, 82 new positive cases were reported to DPH on Aug. 13. The remaining 291 positive cases largely represent historical test results reported by the Department of Correction (DOC) that were recently processed into the Division of Public Health’s surveillance system. Additionally, 88 DOC-related positive cases were added the day before, accounting for a larger-than normal cumulative increase reported yesterday,.

According to the Division of Health, the Department of Correction’s healthcare provider has been reporting positive cases to them throughout the pandemic. Initially, providers from DOC correctional facilities submitted these cases by scanning completed DPH disease report forms, and sending them via secure fax.

“In July, as DOC administered more than 1,000 inmate COVID-19 tests (for 975 inmates at Sussex Correctional Institution and 80 inmates at Morris Community Corrections Center), DPH requested that DOC begin submitting all test results electronically via CSV file.,” said Sean Dooley, spokesman at the Division of Health. “DPH, DOC, and DOC’s health care provider worked collaboratively to implement this process, which streamlines test result submissions, provides quality control by ensuring that all required data fields are included, and speeds up review and posting.”

Following recent training by DPH for DOC and its provider, the first electronic report containing nearly 300 test results from July, and including approximately 100 positive test results, was submitted and processed into the DPH surveillance system last week. DOC submitted its remaining reports, containing more than 1,000 test results (both positive and negative), late last week, and DPH staff have been working this week to process those results into the surveillance system. As a result of inputting these results, the public will notice a larger-than-typical increase in the cumulative total of positive cases through the weekend. These additional cases do not represent new infections., Dooley explains.

The seven-day average for the percentage of persons who tested positive for COVID-19 increased slightly from 4.2% as of August 6, to 4.3% as of Thursday, Aug. 13.

In addition, 38 individuals are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Delaware up from 37 reported as of last Friday’s update. Ten of the hospitalized persons are critically ill, down from 15 last week.

A total of 593 Delawareans have passed away due to complications from COVID-19. The state reported five additional deaths since last week’s update. None were residents of long-term care facilities. The total number of individuals who have died from COVID-19 ranged in age from 21 to 104 years old. Of those who have died, 315 were females and 278 were males. A total of 293 individuals were from New Castle County, 108 were from Kent County, and 192 were from Sussex County.

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Information related to positive cases and deaths among residents at long-term care facilities will be updated weekly each Friday, using information reported as of 6 p.m. Thursday. There have been a total of 1,234 positive COVID-19 cases cumulatively involving long-term care residents, and 362 residents of Delaware long-term care facilities have died from complications related to COVID-19. No new deaths for long-term care residents have been reported in the last week.

The locations and number of deaths involving residents of long-term care facilities are:

• Atlantic Shores Rehabilitation and Health Center, Millsboro (17)
• Brackenville Center, Genesis Healthcare, Hockessin (17)
• Brandywine Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Wilmington (34)
• Brandywine Living at Seaside Pointe, Rehoboth Beach (2)
• Cadia Healthcare Broadmeadow, Middletown (10)
• Cadia Healthcare Capitol, Dover (12)
• Cadia Healthcare Renaissance, Millsboro (7)
• Cadia Healthcare North Wilmington/Silverside, Wilmington (4)
• Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill, Smyrna (11)
• Governor Bacon Health Center, Delaware City (1)
• HarborChase of Wilmington, Wilmington (4)
• Harbor Healthcare and Rehabilitation, Lewes (20)
• Harrison House Senior Living, Georgetown (40)
• Hillside Center, Wilmington (3)
• Little Sisters of the Poor, Newark (11)
• ManorCare Health Services, Wilmington (13)
• ManorCare Health Services, Pike Creek (20)
• Methodist Country House, Wilmington (4)
• Millcroft, Newark (2)
• Milford Center, Genesis Healthcare, Milford (35)
• New Castle Health and Rehabilitation Center, New Castle (11)
• Newark Manor Nursing Home, Newark (11)
• Parkview Nursing and Rehabilitation, Wilmington (26)
• Pinnacle Rehabilitation and Health Center, Smyrna (24)
• Regal Heights Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, Hockessin (5)
• Summit Assisted Living, Hockessin (3)
• Sunrise Assisted Living, Wilmington (2)
• Westminster Village, Dover (7)
• Six other New Castle County long-term care facilities (1 death at each facility)

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[su_tab title=”What to do if you are sick”]

If you are sick with any of the following symptoms, stay home: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, chills, shaking with chills, loss of smell or taste, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, or headache or congestion or runny nose without a known cause such as allergies.

Other symptoms such as abdominal pain or lack of appetite have been identified as potential symptoms related to COVID-19 and may prompt further screening, action or investigation by a primary care provider.

If you are sick and need essential supplies, ask someone else to go to the grocery store or the pharmacy to get what you need.

If you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or have symptoms of illness, make sure to distance yourself from others, particularly vulnerable populations. Older adults and people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions – including serious heart conditions, chronic lung conditions, including moderate to severe asthma, severe obesity and those who are immunocompromised, including through cancer treatment – may have a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.[/su_tab]

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Information about testing events, including community testing sites and free-standing sites operated by the health care systems and hospitals, will be listed on the testing section of the Delaware coronavirus website at: coronavirus.delaware.gov/testing/.

Individuals with questions about COVID-19 should call Delaware 2-1-1, individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can text their ZIP code to 898-211, or email info@delaware211.org. Hours of operation are 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Medically related questions regarding testing, symptoms, and health-related guidance can be submitted by email at DPHCall@delaware.gov. Questions regarding unemployment claims should be emailed to: UIClaims@delaware.gov.

In addition, DPH asks any Delaware health care, long-term care, residential, or other high-risk facility with questions or concerns to email: DPH_PAC@delaware.gov or call the DPH Call Center at 1-866-408-1899 and press ext. 2.

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[su_box title=”Report Those Not Complying”]Individuals who have complaints about individuals violating public gathering restrictions should contact state or local law enforcement. Concerns that a business may be violating operating restrictions should be directed to: HSPContact@delaware.gov. Questions related to business re-openings or operations as businesses reopen should go to COVID19FAQ@delaware.gov.[/su_box]

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