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Missouri virus hospitalizations rising as data problem fixed

Missouri virus hospitalizations rising as data problem fixed

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Gov. Mike Parson talks about the coronavirus and special session

Randall Williams, director of the department of health and senior services, puts on a mask in honor of the Blues leaving for Edmonton during a press conference outside of the Governor's office at the Missouri State Capitol Building in Jefferson City on Monday, July 27, 2020. Williams provided an update on the state's COVID-19 testing and urged the younger population to continue social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing. Photo by Colter Peterson, cpeterson@post-dispatch.com

JEFFERSON CITY — A data-entry problem that skewed hospitalization numbers in Missouri for more than a week was fixed on Monday and the new data showed that hospitalizations were still increasing.

Last week, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Service’s coronavirus dashboard had a message that said the number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 had been underreported since Oct. 17 because of "challenges entering data” to the portal used by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for collecting daily hospitalizations around the country.

The dashboard posted a message Monday saying the problem had been resolved. It reported that as of Friday, 1,399 Missourians were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, including 481 patients who were in intensive care and 174 who were on ventilators. There can be a 72-hour delay in reporting hospitalization data because that is how long hospitals have to submit it.

Hospitalizations in the state have increased steadily since September and hit record highs several times this month. The peak was Oct. 14, when 1,465 hospitalizations were reported, which was nearly four times the 375 patients who were hospitalized on July 7.

It remained unclear Monday how many other states had been affected by the HHS portal issue because some states do not use the federal agency’s data collection.

An HHS spokeswoman did not respond to a question about other states but said the issues in Missouri were caused by a need to incorporate additional data elements on the state’s dashboard.

The statement said there were no missing data on the HHS systems and the two agencies worked together to fix any discrepancies.

COVID-19 has been surging in Missouri, with state health officials on Monday reporting another 1,527 confirmed cases and five more deaths from the disease. That brought the state’s overall totals since the pandemic began to 171,022 confirmed cases and 2,810 deaths.

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