ITHACA, N.Y. –– A large amount of testing last week led to a reporting error in COVID-19 data the Tompkins County Health Department said on Saturday.

Some of our readers noticed that, since this reported error on Saturday, the second graph on our COVID-19 Dashboard has not appeared. We wanted to clarify that the data we run is accurate.

“There were a large number of samples collected at multiple locations that made data tracking more complicated. The positive, recovered and hospitalized are and have been correct throughout,” Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa said in a statement over the weekend.

The affected data were the negative test results, pending results and total tested for Friday, May 22 — which showed a jump of more than 1,000 total tested in just one day. The Voice reported in our COVID-19 Daily Brief that the large spike was due to no new numbers being reported on Thursday evening and was, therefore, two days worth of data.

In seeking clarification on Tuesday, both Cayuga Health System –– which operates COVID testing locally — and the Tompkins County Health Department say that the error was the result of registrations for tests being counted as total tests completed, which in turn led to the error in pending results data and negative test data.

“The data was reported as registrations rather than actual tests but has been reconfigured to reflect the actual testing number,” Tompkins County Communications Director Dominick Recckio said. “Cayuga Health System has gone above and beyond to share testing data with us, and has been a transparent and consistent partner. It’s incredible how many tests they’ve been able to administer for Tompkins County residents, which is foundational to stopping the spread.”

The Ithaca Voice made the decision to not graph the effected data over the holiday weekend, as the health department and Cayuga Health System made further corrections. Both entities ensure that the current data is accurate, and their error has been addressed.

“To support the growing testing needs of our community and skilled nursing facilities, Cayuga Health System has significantly increased our capacity to test for the coronavirus. Last week, a new registration process was created for skilled nursing facilities that created some issues with data. We quickly identified and corrected the issue,” said John Turner, Vice President of Public Relations for CHS.

Turner said that the data error did not affect New York State reported data submitted on individual tests or COVID-19 positive cases in Tompkins County.

Photo courtesy of Ciera Carhart, Cayuga Health.

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com