Missouri health officials regain confidence in coronavirus hospitalization data

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A flaw in the federal reporting system used to supply data for Missouri and a few other states’ COVID-19 dashboards caused problems for more than a week, but state health officials have regained confidence in the data now that it has made fixes.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services had posted a message stating COVID-19 hospitalization patient numbers were being underreported starting Oct. 17, The AP reported. Challenges entering data to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) portal that collects daily hospitalization numbers were blamed for the problem.

“This is the only section of the dashboard that relies on federal data, and our confidence is once again high in the data we’re receiving,” Lisa Cox, spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, told The Center Square.

The data on the state’s health care system dashboard reflects what is required and collected by HHS via TeleTracking.

“We work closely each day with the Missouri Hospital Association and various providers around the state to understand all aspects of potential strain, including staffing as well as types of beds, supplies, and other components critical to COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 care,” Cox said.

As of Oct. 29, 1,490 patients were hospitalized in Missouri, with 464 in an ICU. Out of those patients, 179 were on ventilators.

The state has reported 177,693 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 2,474 new cases reported on Oct. 26. A total of 2,899 deaths have been recorded.

A COVID Tracking Project blog post “identified five other states with anomalies in their hospitalization figures” that could be tied to the HHS reporting problem.

Intensive care unit patients in Kansas dropped from 80 to one without an explanation. Wisconsin’s hospitalization figures stayed flat while other indicators worsened. Georgia, Alabama, and Florida reported only partial updates to hospitalization data.

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