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Here’s why Lexington’s COVID numbers don’t match up with the state’s

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 1:37 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The COVID-19 numbers for Fayette County can be pretty different, depending on where you’re getting them.

The people at the health department tell us they’re aware of the issue and there’s a simple explanation.

The daily report for September 15, put out by the state of Kentucky, lists 57 new cases. But according to the health department’s website, there were 96. The state lists a little more than 5,000 total Fayette County cases, the county health dept. lists more than 7,200.

Kevin Hall, the spokesperson for the health department, tells us it’s simply an issue of manpower.

Because they are an independent system, the numbers sent to the state have to be entered manually, and that creates a bit of a delay. But they tell us they are in constant contact with Frankfort, who has an up to date picture of what’s happening in Lexington.

They tell me the daily numbers listed on the health department website are the most up to date. They also want to make sure people know there is no delay when it comes to contacting people who test positive or who had close contact with someone who did.

“The numbers are numbers, it’s the people that are affected by the numbers that we are talking about,” Hall said. “It’s making sure any trends or outbreaks that we really need to look at about protecting certain areas making sure there’s nothing more going on. That’s those discussions that are happening.”

Hall says they are in constant communication with Frankfort and they’re aware of the issue.

During a hearing in front of lawmakers last week, Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said they were aware that the numbers they had were imperfect, but he still felt like they were the best resource they had when it came to making public health decisions.

“It is a challenge. Though, when we have a global pandemic, that’s a once in a century magnitude and we try to capture data coming from so many disparate systems at such a skill that it’s really been unprecedented compared to the things we’ve done before in recent history,” Dr. Stack said.

Dr. Stack said they expected those numbers to change as delayed cases were added. Hall said the numbers also change when cases are removed.

“If we ever find out they weren’t a COVID case, they get removed,” Hall said. “When we found out a few months ago from a hospital that there were some false positives they get removed.”

Hall said the important thing was that all the parties involved, including the University of Kentucky where a lot of the county’s cases are coming from, are in daily contact. He said if Lexington sees a spike in numbers, the state will know about it immediately, even if the numbers on their website don’t show it.

Copyright 2020 WKYT. All rights reserved.

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