State explains why Franklin cases dropped from five to three

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A state health department spokesman explains why the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Franklin County dropped from five to three in Monday evening's Georgia Department of Public Health update.

  • A state health department spokesman explains why the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Franklin County dropped from five to three in Monday evening's Georgia Department of Public Health update.
    A state health department spokesman explains why the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Franklin County dropped from five to three in Monday evening's Georgia Department of Public Health update.
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Franklin County’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases may not be as high as originally thought.

For nearly a week, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported five confirmed cases of the virus in people from Franklin County.

That changed on Monday, when the state health department’s 7 p.m. report indicated Franklin County had three confirmed cases.

The original report of five cases was simply an incorrect report of where a coronavirus patient lives.

“The DPH website is not real time. Information submitted by providers to the state about positive cases/deaths may have incomplete or incorrect information,” District 2 Public Health Public Information Officer Dave Palmer said. “The state epidemiology section has to verify all of the information before posting to make sure the data in the report is as accurate as possible. If you notice at the bottom of the county report, there is an ‘unknown’ number. This is usually where cases reside until they can be verified. In some instances, you may have noticed that county numbers change from one report to the next. For instance, Franklin county was showing five cases and the next report it showed three. This is due to correction of information where a patient was assigned to a county where they possibly were treated and not their county of residence. The state office is working very hard with providers to get this corrected.”

Franklin County’s first confirmed case of coronavirus was reported by the state March 26, with additional cases reported March 28, March 30 and March 31.

The Georgia Department of Public Health updates the number of confirmed cases twice a day – at noon and 7 p.m. – as test results come in from state private laboratories.

The updates can be found at https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.

“Any licensed health care provider who has the capability to collect specimens, using the proper supplies and follows the guidelines for collection for testing may do so,” Palmer said. “Laboratories that have been approved by CDC (Centers for Disease Control) can perform the tests on the specimens for COVID-19.”

Information from around the state is submitted to the state public health department and the statistics are compiled and posted on the department’s website, Palmer said.

The website also updates each day which counties have confirmed cases.

Cases are listed as being from the county where the patient lives, no matter where the patient may be treated.

“Hospitalized patients may be counted in their county of residence while receiving care in another county,” Palmer said.

The website also reports cases from “unknown counties.”

Palmer said that is due to how long it takes to confirm the address of patients.

“If someone is listed as unknown, that person may have been tested in a county that is not their county of residence,” Palmer said. “If that county is in another health district, then there could be some lag time between confirming the county of residence. Here is an example: a person lives in Hart County (District 2) but is tested in Clarke County (District 10). The provider submits the results of the test to Department of Public Health state office. This information is then sent to the districts for verification of residence. Verification may not occur before the case is posted on the website resulting in an ‘unknown.’”