Martha Whyte Refutes Claims of Inaccurate COVID Numbers
On Tuesday, Red River Parish made some bold claims about the accuracy of COVID-19 reporting in the state of Louisiana. In their announcement to opt out of the Governor's statewide mask mandate, the Red River Parish Office of Homeland Security claimed that the numbers being reported to them were inflated by 40% by the Louisiana Department of Health. In a Facebook post, the Office made the following statement:
Red River Parish COVID count numbers from LDH is at 96. We receive a cumulative list each day of individuals that has tested positive. If an individual gets tested more than once to get a negative result in order to return to work and that test comes back positive that test is showing up as another COVID count number not back to the same individual. Sometimes these individuals take 1 to 4 test and have multiple positives come back and those test results are being counted in the list as a new person.
We have taken these multiple count instances out ￼and it brings the Red River Parish count to 58 not 96.
This was compiled by the most recent information provided to us.
This statement, obviously, got a lot of people talking and wondering if all the data in the state was inflated by such a huge margin. Martha Whyte, the Region 7 Director of Public Health, spoke on social media to refute claims made by Red River Parish. Whyte made multiple posts on Facebook discrediting the statement made by the Office of Homeland Security in Red River Parish.
Whyte stated plainly, "I can list every name and date of birth of 98 different people. They are not duplicates. I won't but I can. It is correct on the state dashboard. Period." A short time later, Whyte put up a more detailed post which claims there are some minor inaccuracies in the reports made by LDH. But, she reiterated, the duplicates and inaccuracies found are usually a low number:
Case counts reported on the LDH website represent individual persons with positive results for COVID-19, not numbers of positive test results received. Multiple results are often reported for an individual (positive, negative, or otherwise) due to repeat testing, but a single positive test for each individual is used for case counting. LDH uses an extensive de-duplication process involving automated and manual review to account for non-exact person matches due to data entry errors, incomplete data, and other issues in the lab data reported to LDH. Despite our best efforts, there may still be a small number of duplicate records in our dataset, and these will be resolved as they are detected, which may lead to changes in case counts. The actual number of cases is likely higher than reported here due to test reporting lags, incomplete testing, and undetected cases among asymptomatic individuals.
This residual duplicates removed is usually less than five, and when dealing with 2000+ positive cases a day, not many.
Meanwhile, there are several reports out of inaccurate test reporting from around the nation, namely Florida. There are several reports claiming that facilities are sending in reports that show 90-100% positivity results while the actual numbers are much less.