CHARLESTON — An investigation, ordered by Gov. Jim Justice last week after the number of active COVID-19 cases in Randolph County were found to be much lower than shown on the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ (DHHR) COVID-19 dashboard, has found that the DHHR electronic case surveillance system was not updated with recovered case data from the local health departments and DHHR did not follow up with local health departments to routinely verify recovered cases of COVID-19.
Recovered cases are determined by the local health departments as they follow individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. The error in the numbers of recovered individuals on the COVID-19 dashboard was discovered by the West Virginia National Guard, which contacted the Randolph County Health Department to verify the numbers. These cases, which had not been entered into the electronic case surveillance system as recovered, were cases from the Huttonsville Correctional Facility outbreak several weeks ago.
This week, DHHR’s Office of Epidemiology and Prevention Services and the West Virginia National Guard contacted each local health department to verify the numbers and compared them to those in the electronic case surveillance system, which is updated to the COVID-19 dashboard. This follow-up found that many local health departments are behind on clearing these active cases, and although the DHHR noticed this discrepancy, nothing was done to correct the issue sooner.
“DHHR has made every effort to be completely transparent in the reporting of any data related to this pandemic and will continue to acknowledge any errors and discrepancies in the future and fix them as quickly as possible,” said Bill J. Crouch, DHHR Cabinet secretary. “We appreciate our partnership with the West Virginia National Guard as well as the local health departments. A system will be put in place to routinely verify data in the future to prevent this from ever happening again. Gov. Justice has demanded this of us, and the public deserves it.”
Local health departments are updating these numbers and are expected to finish that by Friday.
“Should any local health departments need assistance in this effort, DHHR is happy to provide any assistance we can, including requests to have the National Guard assist in this effort,” added Crouch. “We recognize we need to support our local partners more and provide more assistance to them as we move forward. They are doing an unbelievable job under extremely difficult circumstances.”