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Coronavirus numbers caught in reporting glitch

Thursday, April 16, 2020
Coronavirus numbers caught in reporting glitch

Errors in the Louisiana Department of Health’s (LDH) recording of confirmed coronavirus cases have apparently hit Lincoln Parish for at least the second time.

Wednesday’s LDH update showed the parish with 41 positive cases, down from the 42 reported on Tuesday. But parish Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Kip Franklin disputes the finding.

“It’s not an accurate count,” he said.

The state report also still doesn’t show the two deaths Lincoln Parish authorities have attributed to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Statistics on the more detailed reports that Franklin and other parish homeland security directors receive don’t always correspond with the state’s numbers, either.

“It’s a statewide problem,” Greg Gossler, Union Parish director of Homeland Security and Emergency Protection, said.

Some of the reports have included duplicate entries and, as was the case with Lincoln Parish in March, patients who are not residents of the parish in which they were counted.

Numbers reported by LDH are supposed to reflect cases by parish of residence of the patients only.

And there’s no way to quantify how many Louisianans may have had mild cases of COVID-19 and didn’t know it.

Local officials say at least part of the reporting problem seems to be the increasing number of test results coming out of both public and private labs, making it hard for statisticians to keep up.

Plus, the state has also changed the reporting procedure. In the beginning, healthcare facilities reported directly to the LDH; now, the Louisiana State Police is gathering the information first.

An LDH spokesperson could not be reached for comment on the disparities or the change in reporting mechanisms.

Meantime, the number of confirmed cases statewide continues to climb. As of noon Wednesday, 21,951 cases were reported. That’s and additional 433 cases listed since Tuesday.

Both the local and statewide case numbers include the first cases reported through the latest tally. Some 1,103 people have died from COVID-19. The state estimates 7,044 people have recovered from the disease.