IDPH Dealing With Issues of Real-Time Data Collection For COVID-19

By Benjamin Cox on May 19, 2020 at 12:40pm

The Illinois Department of Public Health is having trouble with correct numbers on their COVID-19 tracing map, resulting in reporting errors on their website.

On Thursday, Cass County Health Department officials confirmed to WLDS News that the map on IDPH’s website tracking positive COVID-19 cases incorrectly listed the county with 66 total cases. On Thursday, there were actually only 61 cases in the county. As of today, Cass County’s number of cases on IDPH’s website is correct at 64. Andrew English, Public Communication for CCHD, said via email that a Northern Illinois lab may be incorrectly reporting test results as Cass residents to IDPH’s INEDSS tracking system that populates the map on IDPH’s website.

Morgan County’s case count has been incorrect since Friday, listing 35 positive cases in the county. As of yesterday, Morgan County had only 34 positive cases to report.

Today, Brown County’s numbers incorrectly stand at 11 on the IDPH website, while health officials are only reporting 10 cases in that county.

When asked about the issue by WLDS News on Friday during Governor J.B. Pritzker’s daily COVID-19 press conference, Dr. Ngozi Ezike says that the numbers are being modified frequently because of duplicated cases being reported or incorrect location attribution: “Human error probably happens on a semi-regular basis. Our data stewards have to go back and look at this data. We can’t just take everything as it comes. We have to take several passes at it – keep looking at it to make sure that the data is good. We have to clean it up and remove those inconsistencies. We have to respond to information from other states that might say ‘Oh, you have a resident of ours in your count’ so, both states will have to have an adjustment. One will go up and the other will go down. Some of these things are happening all the time.”

Ezike says that time is needed to check on accuracy to update the published public data: “Whenever we get the data from the day before, that’s what we’ve gotten. Then, we can go back and look at it to make sure there aren’t any duplicates. Again, there could be a misspelled name or maybe another report had a different name, and so maybe they get counted twice. Then, after further review, you could see in fact that these are the same individuals. Again, there are some time that’s needed to re-check the data to make sure there aren’t errors. We do know that potentially a death might have been reported yesterday. Maybe there was a delay in the hospital getting it to us or a delay in that information coming to IDPH. Again, we are only able to give out the information that we receive and we try to do all of our due diligence to make sure that there aren’t duplicates, there aren’t errors, and the deaths attributed to the state are actually residents and actually belong to this state’s case count and haven’t been counted previously.”

Ezike has said previously that the situation is constantly changing with data and that monitoring is continually happening by IDPH’s statisticians while thousands of more tests are completed. Illinois has collected over 600,000 test results since late March.