As COVID-19 Surges, MSDH Data System Fails, State Press Briefings on Hold

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The Mississippi State Department of Health is reporting a severe “data processing” issue preventing the release of new COVID-19 information that has persisted since the middle of last week, meaning the agency has not shared updated numbers on new cases and deaths since June 18. MSDH announced on Twitter today it would resolve delays by the end of the day today.

Responding to WLBT’s Courtney Ann Jackson, a spokesperson for MSDH said that “processes are in place to procure a new system,” acknowledging that MSDH’s current data system is unsuitable for the task at hand.

The most recent information on new COVID-19 cases comes from Wednesday, June 17, which showed 381 new cases and five new deaths. Data-validation issues have waylaid the updates since that report. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs blamed the “legacy system” MSDH relies upon for reporting granular data for the delays.

The very next day, Dobbs shared his grave fears of the stress the continuing crisis puts on the state’s healthcare system, especially considering the summer was previously expected to be a respite from the disease. “The scenario is very possible that someone has a heart attack, and they’re gonna show up at a hospital, and there’s not gonna be a ventilator, because they’re all taken,” Dobbs said at a press conference on June 18.

Gov. Tate Reeves’ heretofore daily press conferences also slowed with the pace of MSDH’s updates. Last week, the governor and the state health officer addressed the public on Tuesday and Thursday—scheduling no further press conferences since.

The data problems have only worsened in the early days of the summer. MSDH’s first reported technical delay came on June 5, pushing back the release of June 4’s end-of-day cases and deaths from the morning to the afternoon. Now, at a time when state health leadership

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