For the last two weeks the Camden County Department of Health (DOH) has been working to reconcile 897 cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), stretching back to late April, from the New Jersey Department of Health.
The cases have been caught in variety of reporting traps and are one of the significant reasons the state continues to report higher numbers for confirmed cases than the county.
The Camden County Health Department receives its data from the state’s Communicable Disease Reporting and Surveillance System (CDRS). After a resident is tested for COVID-19, their case data is first placed in the system by the lab that receives that test. After processing the test, the lab transmits the positive result into the CDRS system. However, once that information is confirmed, it can still lack significant primary identifying case structure information based on the lab data entry. The county DOH then takes whatever information the lab provides out of CDRS and moves forward with its contact tracing investigation, and per Attorney General guidelines, provides pertinent information to the computer aided dispatch system of local law enforcement.
There are several interconnected events that have led to the confirmed case backlog:
- New labs have created challenges in reporting statewide;
- Many of these cases were labeled in different jurisdictions;
- Hundreds of cases were given to the Health Department from multiple unit dwellings with the same address without an apartment number;
- Many include individuals who were tested for COVID-19 multiple times; and
- The state reporting system was never created for this level of use and has created delays in reporting.
Camden County Health Officer, Dr. Paschal Nwako, talked about the process and ensuring the integrity of reporting.
“We have gone through a variety of challenges in getting our numbers throughout this pandemic. This process was time consuming and warranted so we could confirm the proper case count that reflects the state’s numbers and harmonizes our metrics with our counterparts at the state,” Nwako said. “Moving forward, we will continue to update residents on a daily basis on what the labs and the state are providing us and continue to ensure the most accurate information can be found on our website throughout this pandemic.”