Human error, complications in inputting data cause fluctuations in COVID-19 numbers on FDOH COVID-19 Dashboard

OKEECHOBEE – On Tuesday, May 12 the Florida Department of Health COVID-19 Dashboard listed 28 positive cases in Okeechobee County. On Wednesday, May 13, the number dropped to 25.

What happened? Human error and/or complications in inputting data.

“With the recent increase in multiple labs processing tests for COVID-19, all the results go into the same database MERLIN, no matter where the test was performed or which lab processed the test,” explained Amy Cormier with the Okeechobee County Health Department. “When a human enters the information of the location of residence, of the person who has tested, it may be incorrect due to the person not living at that address, or incorrectly entered into MERLIN by a human.

“County positive and negative numbers are listed on the Florida Department of Health’s Dashboard by the information in MERLIN. When a Department of Health Epidemiology nurses process the positive case to do the contact tracing, that is usually when the discrepancy is found. Once the discrepancy is found, it is corrected in MERLIN,” she continued.

“The reason Okeechobee Counties positive numbers went down is because the positive cases listed on the Dashboard to Okeechobee, lived in another county. This correction may take 24-48 hours to update in MERLIN and on the Dashboard,” she added.

“Florida is the innovative leader in the United States with this technology and information offered on a dashboard for all to see the COVID19 tracked numbers in Florida,” she said.

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