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Missouri adds dozens of uncounted COVID-19 deaths after data glitch discovered

Missouri adds dozens of uncounted COVID-19 deaths after data glitch discovered

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ST. LOUIS — Missouri added a record number of new COVID-19 deaths Saturday after a data review revealed dozens of virus deaths from earlier this summer that were never counted in the state’s tally, health officials announced.

The state added 77 deaths Saturday, but said 72 of them occurred in June, July and August.

The new deaths bring the state’s toll to 1,639 since the start of the pandemic. The deaths were added after health officials noticed discrepancies between COVID-19 death certificates and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services electronic data system tracking the virus, the department said in a statement.

“This was an issue related to familiarity with a new disease surveillance system,” department spokeswoman Lisa Cox told the Post-Dispatch in an email.

Cox said the issue was a data coding problem, explaining that more than 900 health department workers statewide are using a recently updated online system to upload fresh data, which led to errors.

“We are rectifying this now so we can avoid this situation in the future,” Cox said.

Saturday also marked a spike in new COVID-19 cases in Missouri, with the state adding the second-highest daily count of new cases in the pandemic.

COVID-19 Missouri: Rolling 7-day average

The state health department announced 1,987 new cases Saturday, topped only by the July 30 count of 2,084. That brings Missouri to 92,202 total cases.

The positivity rate, which measures the rate of COVID-19 tests coming back positive, continues on an upward trend in Missouri, hitting a seven-day average of 13.3% Saturday. That rate was about 10% a month ago.

Missouri ranks sixth among all U.S. states in the last seven days for the rate of cases per 100,000 people, according to a data analysis by The New York Times. Neighboring Illinois ranks 15th.

COVID-19 Illinois: Rolling 7-day average

The positivity rate in Illinois’ Metro East prompted state health officials to reinstate restrictions last week, including the closure of indoor restaurant dining, but the number is starting to trend down. The seven-day average rate was at 9.4% Saturday, compared with about 10% the week before.

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