Missouri’s COVID dashboard still broken after reporting error

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JEFFERSON CITY, MO. — Missouri’s online COVID-19 dashboard has been broken since Saturday after a record-setting increase in cases.

The Show Me Strong Dashboard has not been updated since Saturday and if you go to the website, a message on the page says it’s under maintenance. This was caused by an error of more than 5,000 additional cases being added to the state within 24 hours.

The Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services Dr. Randall Williams said he received an alarming call Saturday morning.

“I instantly thought that doesn’t reconcile with everything we are seeing,” Williams said. “We don’t believe this number reflects reality.”

The call informed him the state was reporting 5,020 new COVID-19 cases. Williams said the increase didn’t make.

“Our preliminary tells us it would have been about 1,400 Saturday and on Sunday and on Monday,” Williams said.

The state unveiled a new dashboard which removes manual input at the end of September.

“In the past, if we would have got a discrepancy and said, ‘wait a minute, that doesn’t seem right,’ we could pretty quickly follow that trail back, but when it’s electronic, it’s a little more difficult,” Williams said. “It’s much more comprehension, however it took the human element out of it.”

Before the new dashboard, Williams said departments and labs would fax in and call in their results and their numbers would be manually inputted.

“Now you enter it into an electronic database on your computer and it goes automatically in and then it’s automatically reported,” Williams said.

The dashboard was created from a company called EpiTrax and Williams said it’s something the state wanted for years.

“It’s been around for years and we wanted it for years but didn’t have the funding for it, but now we had the funding for it through the CARES Act and we were able to implement it,” Williams said.

He said this type of dashboard is used to track infectious diseases.

“I don’t think it would startle people that you transition from a manual process to an electronic process that one has to be very vigilant for these kinds of challenges that arise just from going from a system that we’ve had for years and years to one that’s completely automated,” Williams said.

Williams and his team of about 15 people from DHSS has been working around the clock to figure out where those numbers came from.

“So they are going back now doing manually what they used to do, what we are now doing for the last couple of weeks electronically,” Williams said.

He said DHSS uses the dashboard to follow the state’s response to the virus.

“We really use this data to drive our policy to look at trends to not only do our case contact tracing, but to see if we are headed in different direction,” Williams said.

The state is also set to release its plans to distribute a COVID vaccine on Thursday.

“We hope to have a limited number of vaccines in December and hope to have enough of the vaccine for everybody in April,” Williams said.

Wiliams said this plan has been a talking point for state leaders since July and must turn the report into the CDC by Friday at noon.

“There’s probably going to be five vaccines and each of those have their own specific ways of being stored and being administered,” Williams said.

Williams said the department hopes to have an answer to the cause of the record-setting increase and the dashboard up and running by Wednesday morning.

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