TRENTON, NJ – The State of New Jersey has deleted an estimated 16,000 cases of COVID-19 it now claims were nothing more than data errors. This comes as the state has faced scrutiny over its accounting of positive COVID-19 test results.
During the pandemic, the state was accused of inflating those numbers, given each morning by Governor Phil Murphy. Now a Twitter user named “Woke Zombie” has been a thorn in the side of Murphy, his Department of Health Commissioner Judith Perischili and Dr. Ed Lifshitz, Medical Director of the Communicable Disease Service at the NJ Department of Health.
Lifshitz said the state is now going through the database and cleaning out cases of COVID-19 past that it now says were not COVID-19 cases at all. He admitted to cleaning out 10,442 cases from the database, but the Twitter watchdog says that number is well over 16,000 since the Governor’s staff eliminated the first 10,000.
“Every day, thousands of entries related to COVID-19 are made into the Department’s database. Reports are received from hundreds – or even thousands – of laboratories, local health departments and healthcare providers,” Lifshitz said. “While checks are in place to minimize errors, inevitably a small number of inappropriate cases – overwhelmingly duplicates – are created. As part of an ongoing process, the Communicable Disease Service routinely reviews the database to correct these errors. This is reflected in our daily numbers where we typically subtract out a small number (usually in the double digits) from our previously reported total cumulative cases.”
“We are subtracting 10,442 confirmed cases leaving today’s total confirmed cumulative cases lower than yesterday, and I just wanted to take a moment to explain this one time drop,” Lifshitz said two weeks ago, but the purging continues.
On Sunday alone, 641 more cases were reportedly deleted. 790 more cases were deleted on Saturday.
“This cleaning has been done manually, and has been effective, however given the large number of cases in the system, it has not been possible to identify all duplicate entries and manually correct them each day,” Lifshitz said. “CDS has worked with Health Information Technology staff to develop an automated method to remove these duplicate reports.”
As of April 27th, the state deleted 1.2% of all COVID-19 positive cases were purged from the system.
“Moving forward, this automated process will be performed on a weekly basis, to supplement the manual daily data cleaning. Since this cleaning will happen weekly, variations in in the cumulative case counts will be small,” he said.
Since that announcement an average of 3,000 cases per week have been removed, representing nearly 2% of all previously reported cases.