Multiple states accused of altering statistics on COVID-19 to show false improvement

Multiple States Accused Of Altering Statistics On COVID-19 To Show False Improvement

Public health officials in some states in the United States have been accused of altering statistics on coronavirus infections and even resorting to tricks to make things look better than they are.

The risk is that politicians, business owners, and people who need to decide on quarantines, resumption of activities, and other day-to-day affairs may have the impression that the spread of the virus is more controlled than it actually is.

In Virginia, Texas and Vermont, for example, authorities said they are combining the results of viral tests that show active infection with antibody tests that show past infection. Public health experts say this can provide high test volume totals, but it does not reflect the true picture of the virus’s spread.


In Florida, the data science expert who developed a virtual dashboard on coronavirus cases in the state, Rebekah Jones, said this week that she was fired for refusing to manipulate statistics “in order to increase support for a reopening plan.” . Health officials did not immediately respond to calls for comment Tuesday.

In Georgia, one of the first states to reduce restrictions and guarantee the public that it was safe to go out again, the Department of Public Health released a chart around May 11 showing that the number of new cases of COVID-19 was declining in the most affected counties. However, the daily records were not arranged in chronological order, but in descending order.

For example, the totals for May 7 preceded those for April 26 and these were followed by those for May 3. A quick glance at the graph made it look like the decline was more steady than it actually was. The graph was erased in less than a day.

Georgia Democratic State Representative Jasmine Clark, who has a PhD in microbiology, said the graph was a “perfect example of a crime.”

“Sadly, it seems that there has been an attempt to make the statistics fit the discourse and that is not how the statistics work,” he said.

Republican Governor Brian Kemp’s office rejected any attempt to mislead the public.

According to President Donald Trump’s government guidelines, states must register a downward trend in infections for 14 days before resuming economic activities. However, some states have reopened even as infections continue to rise or have stabilized. States have also been directed to increase testing volume and contact tracing.

The United States accumulates 1.5 million confirmed infections and more than 90,000 deaths.

Vermont and Virginia said they have stopped combining both types of tests in the past few days. However, Virginia health authorities, where Democratic Governor Ralph Northam has relaxed the restrictions, said the combination of the numbers made no difference to the overall trend.

In Texas, where health authorities said last week they were including some antibody results in their test totals and case counts, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday that the numbers were not mixed. Health authorities did not respond to requests for clarification.

The Georgia Department of Public Health also regularly publishes a chart showing the number of cases relative to time, but new infections are included on the day they tested positive, which is the practice in many other states. Georgia includes new cases on the day the patient reported the first symptoms.

That practice can modify the rhythm of the outbreak and make it appear as if the state is exceeding the highest point.

Kemp spokeswoman Candice Broce insisted that the governor’s office is not telling the department what to do and that officials are not trying to make up the statistics to improve their image. That “could not be further from the truth,” he said.

On the May 11 chart, Broce said public health authorities were trying to highlight the peak days of infections. “It was not intended to deceive,” Broce said Tuesday. “It was always intended to be useful.”

Thomas Tsai, a professor at the Harvard Institute of Global Health, said the way Georgia disseminates the information makes it difficult to understand what the situation is at the moment and is concerned that other states are also disseminating statistics that do not reflect the most current information.

Jennifer Nuzzo, an academic at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said many of those cases are not necessarily the result of an attempt to mislead the public. For example, Nuzzo said, states may not have up-to-date information systems that allow them to distinguish the difference between an antibody test and a viral test.

Still, if states are combining many numbers of tests, “you are not going to be able to make good decisions about a reopening or the level of disease you have in the community,” he added.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Warning: Use of undefined constant AUTH_KEY - assumed 'AUTH_KEY' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /srv/users/wearebreakingnews/apps/wearebreakingnews/public/wp-content/plugins/wp-math-captcha/includes/class-core.php on line 652
8 + 2 =