Latest testing backlog a result of systems being ‘pushed to their limits,’ DOH says

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Published: Aug. 29, 2021 at 4:49 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 29, 2021 at 4:52 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An estimated 800 of Sunday’s 1,678 COVID cases were a result of a backlog in lab reporting, sources said.

That greatly contributed to what is now the new record high for COVID cases reported in Hawaii.

Just over 2 and a half weeks ago, the state had an another instance of backlogged cases which sent the case count on Aug. 13 well over 1,100.

So what’s causing these delays?

In Sunday’s instance, the health department said one out of the 80 labs that contribute to their COVID case counts experienced system errors from Aug. 15 through Aug. 25.

DOH says the reporting error happened between a single lab and the company that compiles the test results.

They say this was not a breakdown within the DOH, but in a statement said, “It does illustrate what can happen when systems are pushed to their limits.”

The statement added, “COVID-19 case counts reported by the Department of Health come from more than 80 laboratories. The laboratories send their test results to a company that aggregates the information. The data is then sent to the Hawaii Health Information Exchange (HHIE). HHIE reports the data to the Department of Health for documentation, analysis, and public reporting.”

Over the last week, an average of over 9,300 tests have been processed daily. That’s almost double the average from one month ago.

These backlogs are making it difficult to get an accurate snapshot of the COVID situation, testing experts say.

“Having accurate data is essential to managing a pandemic right now. And having the ability to have real time data is essential for what should be daily evaluation of what does the State need to do to address this as it’s clearly out of control,” Dr. Scott Miscovich said.

The health department says as always, trends are more important than single day counts and right now Hawaii continues to trend in the wrong direction.

“The upward trend will not slow until more of us take the necessary steps to protect ourselves and our community. It is imperative we wear masks, get vaccinated and distance ourselves from those not in our household, work or school bubbles,” the DOH said.

If you are deemed a close contact, health experts say you should be counting four to five days forward before you should be tested. Officials say that’s how long it takes until symptoms show under the delta variant.

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