Newsom says COVID-19 data is correct after administration shakeup

Published by LATIMES.COM

Summary generated on August 11, 2020

    Responding to one of California's biggest setbacks since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday said his administration has fixed a public health computer database failure that distorted test results across the state and raised doubts about actions taken to stem the spread of coronavirus.

    The governor said he was unaware of the problem, even though state health officials warned counties about data issues days earlier.

    Newsom blamed the issues with the California Reportable Disease Information Exchange, or CalREDIE, on the state's archaic technology systems and cited similar processing delays and problems at the Department of Motor Vehicles and the state Employment Development Department, which has faced sharp criticism for failing to process unemployment insurance applications filed by millions of out-of-work Californians.

    Ghaly said all of those problems have been fixed, all backlogged data have been processed, and that the information had been shared with county health officials across the state.

    Officials also discovered that Quest Diagnostics, one of the biggest labs in the state, was unable to report lab data to the system for five days from July 31 through Aug. 4, further skewing the data.

    After officials discovered the data backlog, the state stopped adding and removing counties from its watchlist of areas experiencing higher rates of transmission, which subjects them to more restrictions than parts of California with lower caseloads.

    Angell, the state's departing director of public health, appeared alongside Newsom in his public briefings on the state's efforts to combat the pandemic.

    Appointed department director and state public health officer by Newsom in October, she was the first Latina to serve in the role.

    Her job responsibilities will be split between two women, state officials said: Sandra Shewry will take over as acting director of the Department of Public Health, and Dr. Erica Pan will shift to become the acting state public health officer after having joined the state's public health department in June as the state's epidemiologist.

    "It's critical for the governor and administration to ensure there is confidence in the public health leadership The data issue has undermined confidence and you suddenly have the director leaving, which raises questions as to why. The administration needs to explain the issue that led to this."