BULLHEAD CITY — Coronavirus testing in Bullhead City last weekend revealed a concerning rate of infection within the pool.
Department of Public Health Director Denise Burley told Mohave County supervisors on Thursday that 171 of the 200 people who pre-registered actually had tests conducted by North County HealthCare.
“Twelve of the 90 tests collected on Friday were positive and 12 of the 81 tests collected on Saturday were positive,” Burley said. “That leads to a 14.5% positivity rate. Anything above 10% is considered high.”
Setting aside the July 24 and 25 numbers for the Bullhead City testing, Burley said the county’s overall positivity rate to date sits at 12%.
Burley proposed that the county revamp and streamline its data collection and delivery approach during the ongoing pandemic. She noted that the board is currently receiving three daily reports at different times in the day.
Burley said reporting in triplicate is draining staff resources from other tasks and she noted that the current “running total” approach has resulted in some inconsistency within the data, and the need to sort, correct and update it. Burley spoke in favor of modifying the data into a single daily report, sacrificing some timeliness for consistency and accuracy of the data.
County Communications Director Roger Galloway said he had no problem with Burley’s suggested reforms involving the daily hospital capacity report and an internal report to the board, but expressed opposition to ending the daily infection and death count updates he usually makes public early each evening.
“That’s completely the opposite of what we should be doing for the media and the public,” Galloway said. “I can’t say how strongly as a media guy, a communications person, how wrong I believe this is.”
Galloway said the numbers, since the start of the outbreak, have been very fluid and always changing. He said he favored getting information in hand to the public when available, providing appropriate corrections and updates along the way.
That’s when county manager Sam Elters intervened, saying improving information flow is the goal, not involving department heads in public debate before the board. He said the county will keep the current data collection and distribution model in place until it can be reworked in the best interest of all parties.
“I’d like to take it back and have discussion internally with both Roger and Denise,” Elters said. It was agreed that staff will brainstorm data reform and prepare some mock-up models that can be evaluated and discussed when the board conducts its COVID-19 management meeting on Aug. 6.
“This (pandemic) is an ongoing event that has been with us for months and it looks like it’s going to be with us for a while longer,” Elters said. “And while timeliness is critical, I agree with Roger, so is the accuracy of that information and the ability to minimize and in the future eliminate discrepancies in the data. It’s been confusing to all of us and the very public that we’re trying to inform.”