Monday, May 18, 2020

Georgia’s Latest COVID-19 Data Mishap Causes Critics to Cry Foul

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Where does Sunday take place twice a week? And May 2 come before April 26?

The state of Georgia, as it provides up-to-date data on the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the latest bungling of tracking data for the novel coronavirus, a recently posted bar chart on the Georgia Department of Public Health’s website appeared to show good news: new confirmed cases in the counties with the most infections had dropped every single day for the past two weeks.

In fact, there was no clear downward trend. The data is still preliminary, and cases have held steady or dropped slightly in the past two weeks. Experts agree that cases in those five counties were flat when Georgia began to reopen late last month.

“It’s just cuckoo. I don’t know how anyone can defend this graph as not being misleading. I really don’t.”
State Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta

DPH changed the graph Monday after more than a day of online mockery, public concern and a letter from a state representative. Gov. Brian Kemp’s office issued an apology and its spokespeople said they’d never make this kind of mistake again.

“Our mission failed. We apologize. It is fixed.”
Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for the governor

This unforced error — at least the third in as many weeks — is confounding observers who have noted sloppiness in case counts, death counts and other measures that are fundamental to tracking a disease outbreak. Georgians check the data daily to decide whether it’s safe to reopen their businesses or send their children to daycare. Policymakers use it for decisions affecting the health of more than 10 million Georgians.

Some of these errors could be forgiven as mistakes made during a chaotic time. But putting days in the wrong order, as the recently withdrawn chart did, makes no sense.

“I have a hard time understanding how this happens without it being deliberate. Literally nowhere ever in any type of statistics would that be acceptable.”
State Rep. Jasmine Clark, D-Lilburn, who received her doctorate in microbiology and molecular genetics at Emory University

Continue reading at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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