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Test reporting errors skew coronavirus data

With correction of errors, Hamilton County’s positivity rate drops to 3.3 percent; 226 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and 13 positive cases are active

Errors in how testing data was reported to the state resulted in some inaccurate numbers on Iowa’s coronavirus dashboard. Those numbers have now been corrected, according to Shelby Kroona of Hamilton County Public Health.

The corrected data means Hamilton County’s actual positive cases stand at 239 with 226 cases that have recovered. There are 13 active cases at this time.

Kroona said the errors in reporting were due to two factors. She said one issue involved people who tested frequently and tests that weren’t properly credited to the right time frame. The problem, which occurred statewide, has been corrected, according to Kroona.

“The second thing that happened, was an organization in Webster County was providing testing. But they did not provide any negative test results. They only reported positive test results to the state,” she said.

“So when you do that, it artificially inflates the positives because we don’t know what the true negative number is,” she said. That, too, has been corrected on the state’s website.

Kroona said that error needed to be corrected to accurately reflect the 14-day positivity rate which schools and parents are relying on to determine whether it’s safe for children to be in the classroom.

“Our positivity rate in Hamilton County dropped from like 9.3 percent to 3.3 percent,” she said.

While the 14-day positivity rate has improved with the correction of the data , Kroona said the county still needs to be vigilant about community spread of the virus — wear masks when away from home, socially distance and use good hand washing practices.

“The virus is still active in our community,” she said. “Wearing masks will help us keep that positivity rate low.”

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