Data tracking coronavirus cases in Ga. in question after misleading chart posted on DPH website

Updated: May. 22, 2020 at 12:03 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Data tracking coronavirus cases in Georgia is being questioned after a misleading chart was posted on the Department of Public Health’s (DPH) website with the dates out of order, suggesting cases were declining over time.

Commissioner Kathleen Toomey said having accurate data is the top priority for public health.

“The integrity of our data is absolutely our number one priority. As this pandemic has evolved, data has continued to evolve, just as the technology continues to evolve around testing and being able to identify who has the virus,” Toomey said.

According to DPH, the department included antibody tests when calculating the total number of tests since April. In response to this, Georgia State University infectious disease expert, Dr. Richard Rothenberg, said combining antibody tests with more common viral tests can create confusion about the current impact of the virus because antibody tests tells whether a person had the virus in the past.

Leaders from the West Central Public Health Department in Columbus said when coronavirus tests come back positive, labs send those numbers to the state.

“It’s updated three times a day in the state website," said Pamela Kirkland with the health department in Columbus.

She also said she can tell some counties are leveling off and in some counties, there haven’t been any new cases in several days.

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