California Coronavirus Update: Daily COVID-19 Infections Count Sees Mysterious Swing One Day After Newsom Promised “Transparency” In Reporting

California Governor Gavin Newsom
California Governor Gavin Newsom State of California/Twitter

At his coronavirus press conference on Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom said the much talked-about backlog of daily cases would roll in over the next 72 hours, “most likely” through Thursday night.

That backlog of 250,000-300,000 cases was created by a series of errors by state officials that caused the state’s daily new infections to be underreported over the course of two weeks.

Wednesday’s numbers seemed to reflect that the backlog was clearing.

The governor announced that the state have received confirmation of 11,645 new cases on Wednesday. That included 6,212 backlogged cases, said Newsom.

He said the delayed numbers would be recorded back to the days they originally should have been reported. “But for the purpose of transparency…we’re giving you numbers that represent the actual number of cases and a number that begins the process of truing up the total number of positives from that backlog. It’s a longwinded way of saying that the actual number today is 5,433.”

Overall, Newsom’s message this week about the backlog could be characterized as: “Things are being fixed.”

But just 24 hours after that news conference, California’s COVID-19 dashboard indicated on Thursday that the state had 7,085 new cases. That’s a lot less than the 11,645 reported on Wednesday. In fact, it looked a lot more like the 7,751 new cases reported on Monday, before the backlog numbers began showing.

On Wednesday, the state COVID-19 dashboard was emblazoned with a disclaimer: “Today’s case counts include backlogged cases that would have been reported in earlier days and weeks and are not an accurate representation of cases reported in the prior 24 hours.”

On Thursday, the disclaimer had been changed to: “Numbers may not represent true day-over-day change as reporting of test results can be delayed.”

So is the drop a result of a drop in the number of backlogged cases being reported, the actual number of new cases being reported, or both? There was no official guidance on that.

But is seems hard to believe that the positive test results contained in the 250,000-300,000 reporting backlog would only amount to 6,000-some infections. That’s especially true given the fact that the state’s 14-day test positivity rate sits at about 6 percent. With a count of 250,000 test results, that positivity rate would yield 15,000 positives.

In addition to the 7,000 new infections, the state saw 160 new deaths related to COVID-19, down from 180 the day before but still well above the 14-day average of 136 lives lost daily. The total lives lost in L.A. county attributed to coronavirus was 10,808.

State statistics for deaths, hospitalizations and ICU occupancy are said to be unaffected by the backlog.

Speaking of which, hospitalizations and coronavirus-related ICU visits continue to trend down, dropping by 3.8 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

You can watch Newsom’s Wednesday news conference below.

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