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Iowa medical director was aware for weeks of COVID data flaw


IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Iowa's medical director says she was aware of widespread inaccuracies in the state's coronavirus data when her agency used it to release flawed calculations that helped guide decisions on school openings and enrollment this month.

Dr. Caitlin Pedati, the state epidemiologist, says she became aware in late July of a problem in Iowa's disease surveillance reporting system that backdated thousands of new test results.

Nonetheless, Gov. Kim Reynolds on Aug. 6 released 14-day county positivity rates on the state's coronavirus website that she said would help school officials and parents decide how to proceed with the upcoming school year.

The state announced Wednesday that because of the backdating problem, those positivity rates had been erroneous for two weeks.

Following Thursday's news conference from Reynolds and Pedati, the Black Hawk County Health Department released a statement on data reporting.

"Since the first confirmed COVID-19 case in March, the department has maintained the data for the county. Our staff manually reviews cases daily to ensure the county's numbers are reported accurately and within a timely manner. If an inconsistency is uncovered, we work to find the source and take steps to correct any issues. We understand that metrics like the 14-day average positivity rate is used by community members to make key decisions that impact the community as a whole. The Black Hawk County Health Department will continue to work with the Iowa Department of Public health to ensure that data is being reported timely and accurately."

Black Hawk County Health Department
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Associated Press

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