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County COVID-19 cases could be higher than reported

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Stanislaus County appears to be about 700 cases away from reaching 10,000, but in reality, it could be much closer.

The California Department of Public has discovered an underreporting of COVID-19 cases due to technology issues with the electronic laboratory reporting system which reports into the state’s disease registry system, known as CalREDIE.

The CDPH Dashboard on COVID-19 data had a note attached on Tuesday that read, "Due to issues with the state's electronic laboratory reporting system, these data represent an underreporting of actual positive cases in one single-day.”

While clinicians are still able to report to local health departments, this issue may impact a local public health department’s ability to receive all lab reports in order to case investigate and contact trace.

To help solve the problem and the resulting issues, the CDPH is deploying a team from the Department of Technology to assess the underlying code and instructed all laboratories in California to manually report all positive cases to the local public health departments.

The CDPH said patient care and test results are not affected or delayed by this issue.

The discovery of underreported cases comes after Stanislaus County found more people died of the virus than initially thought. The Stanislaus County Health Services Agency conducted an audit of the county's coroner's office and discovered 10 deaths of COVID-19 positive patients which were not reported to the health department as COVID-19 deaths.

The 10 deaths occurred from the end of May to the end of July, said Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services spokesman Royjindar Singh.

"All deaths have to be reported to the coroner's office, but are not required to be reported to county public health," Singh said. "Public health only has to be notified of positive test results."

To prevent missing any further COVID-19 deaths, the health department is going to conduct weekly audits with the coroner's office.

As of Tuesday, the Stanislaus County health Services Agency has a count of 9,308 COVID-19 cases, with 709 of those presumed active. The county reported 135 deaths.

Of the current cases, 254 are in the hospital, with 68 cases in the ICU.