Why some COVID-19 recovery numbers aren’t easily accessible

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Positive cases of COVID-19 are being reported daily. The number of recoveries is not. That’s because that data isn’t easily accessible. In fact, some health care officials are choosing not to post those numbers.

Tyler Brock is the Deputy Director for Siouxland District Health. He said deciding to post recovery numbers is something the department has struggled with.

“It’s not a secret. There’s nothing that the public can’t see about it. We really tried to figure out how to present it in a way that actually makes sense to the public. That it’s actually good information and that it honestly doesn’t create more questions than answers,” Brock said.

He said posting recovery numbers may be misleading.

“You’re going to see the case counts going up a lot faster than the recovery counts. So what you might end up with is a big gap. A big gap in the number of total cases and a relatively low number in reported recoveries and then what’s up with the gap? What’s up with the people that have not recovered,” he added.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ website tracks positive and negative cases as well as the number of deaths from COVID-19. They don’t however post recovery numbers.

Melanie Thompson is the Emergency Response Coordinator for Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department.

She said they aren’t reporting recovery numbers because they aren’t tracking them. Thompson said they don’t have the resources to track that data.

“For a local health department, we are so stretched doing contact-tracing of the people who are sick or presented with COVID that we are having to throw all of our resources and everything we have toward putting those fires out… We just don’t have the resources to dedicate one more person to follow up and actively call those people. We don’t have that system in the state of Nebraska at least at this time,” Thompson said.

She said there are several factors that come into play to determine whether someone is considered recovered which makes it difficult to keep accurate data on recoveries.

The South Dakota Department of Health said they post recovery numbers on their website because the state is still in the early stages of the pandemic. They said if and when they start to see an increase in cases, they may re-evaluate.

South Dakota Department of Health has the number of recoveries along with the total test numbers of COVID-19 from every county on their website.

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