New Jersey Governor Murphy accused of inflating daily COVID-19 positives with data from weeks and months ago each day

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on the hot seat this week about what exactly gets counted in his daily COVID-19 positive test figures.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy

TRENTON, NJ – On April 2nd, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy reported 4,071 new positive COVID-19 tests, making the state one of the fastest-growing states in what the governor is now calling “the third wave”.

One amateur watchdog who goes by the name of “Woke Zombie” on Twitter claims the governor is using old numbers to inflate the daily positive rate, some data from more than 30 days ago.

Related: Murphy says COVID-19 vaccine card could be the ticket to your “New Normal”

On Friday, he claimed that 2,635 or the reported “overnight cases” were from the past 7 days and 1,295 were from tests taken more than a week ago. Additionally, he claimed 275 cases were more than 30 days old and 229 were from 2020!

When asked about this data discrepancy by New 12’s Alex Zdan last week, Murphy stumbled.

“When you make your announcement about the daily positive test results in New Jersey, some of those test results are 48 hours old. Some of them are 48 weeks old. Why not separate the test that has come back positive from, say, before last week from the larger total?” Zdan asked the governor. “For the residents of the state to figure out exactly how many people tested positive on Thursday, why not separate the older tests from the newer positive tests?”

“I think the positives as I – again, it’s possible I’m not understanding you, but the positives that we announce are positives from a day that we refer back to when the – when I refer to the positivity rate, so that refers to the recent,” Murphy responded. “Yeah, again, it’s possibly me, but the tests that I announce, that we announce that we put up on the slides are in the here and now…I’m sure there’s also a reason why you’re reflecting forward and backward to get the epidemiological curves and understanding Ed, am I right on this?”

Related: Murphy puts future reopenings on pause due to COVID-19 variant unknowns

Dr. Ed Lifshitz, the Communicable Disease Director for the state said the daily reports reflect when a test is reported into the state system, being the reason for the discrepancy. The numbers reported the next day represents the number of ‘confirmed cases’ to hit the system, but it doesn’t mean those test results are always current.

” No, you’re absolutely right. When we reported out today, what, 3,174 confirmed cases, those 3,174 were – hit the system by 10 p.m. last night, which is when our cutoff was. Every day we are reporting out those cases that get confirmed within that 24-hour period,” Lifshitz said.

The Governor’s Office has not answered to the daily behind-the-scenes reports issued each day by the independent watchdog.

News 12’s Kurt Seigelin was shocked that the governor, who claims to have his finger on the pulse of COVID-19 science and data was unaware of the back-end data behind his daily positive case announcements.

“If the Governor is not aware of what makes up the daily case report… I mean, the implications of that are stunning. Perhaps he misunderstood the question. I can’t comprehend that he understood the question and yet is/has been in the dark about old cases being reported as new,” Siegelin said.

Trentonian reporter Jeff Edelstein filed the following report after not getting a straight answer directly from the governor.

“The number of new PCR positive cases represents individuals with a positive PCR test reported in the past 24 hours. In rare instances (<3% of PCR cases) this number may include cases previously reported as new antigen-positive cases if subsequent positive PCR results are received in the previous 24 hours,” Phil Murphy’s senior advisor later tweeted. “There is no grand conspiracy here. Just ‘shoot first, aim later’ reporting.”

“To me, this is a simple and straightforward question,” Edelstein said. “Bryan’s answer above didn’t exactly satisfy me. So I asked a further question to clarify. “This is not the answer to the question.”

At this point, Murphy needs to address the claims being made by the third party auditor and explain the data more in detail during his next briefing, because there’s quite a bit riding on his daily report and if it’s not accurate, it should be.

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