While San Francisco's COVID patient data may be somewhat better than other counties due to a move made early in the pandemic with regard to how labs report to the city's health department, it is still seeing the impacts of statewide underreporting.
The city's Department of Emergency Management issued a statement Thursday confirming that the city's COVID data reporting modules are continuing to show undercounts due to a technical issue at the state level that was reported earlier this week. The problem is with the state's electronic disease reporting system, called the the California Reportable Disease Information Exchange, or CalREDIE. Possibly due to an overload of new data, or some other issue, CalREDIE numbers have been shown to have discrepancies in multiple counties, though it's still unclear how large the discrepancies are or where they are most prevalent.
Because of the problem, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is directing all labs to report their new cases directly to county health departments — something which, ostensibly, was already happening by city mandate in San Francisco since March.
"As a result, San Francisco’s COVID-19 positivity rate, case investigation and contact tracing may be less affected by the CalREDIE issues, compared to other counties," the DEM explains, "however, there is still an impact because many laboratories report to SFDPH through the CalREDIE system."
Due to the likely discrepancies, the city says it will temporarily stop updating data on this Key Public Health Indicators page. But daily case counts, hospitalizations, and other data will continue to be reported, with the caveat that the case number represents a likely undercount.
As of Thursday, San Francisco was reporting 7,228 cases, a one-day uptick of 2 percent, or 147 cases.
It remains to be seen whether this technical issue and the widespread media reports on it over the last three days are just much ado about nothing. Case counts have regularly been backlogged and delayed, resulting in counties showing large jumps in numbers typically after a weekend, going back four months.
But this latest issue comes just as the governor was touting some seemingly more positive trends in the data this week, which now have been called into doubt. Despite the reporting issue, though, California's Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Monday that state officials still feel "confident that [the state's numbers] are beginning to stabilize."
San Francisco officials say they "cannot estimate a timeframe for resumption" of regular reporting, or when these statewide reporting issues will be resolved.
Photo: Ibrahim Boran