Although the Ohio Department of Health published mostly accurate coronavirus data over the past year of the pandemic, the department could have done better with the specificity of that data and disseminating it to the state’s residents, according to an audit by the Ohio Auditor of the State released this week.
The audit highlighted several areas in which it said the ODH had struggled, including not collecting the number of negative tests results, leading to not having data for a positivity rate. The audit also pointed out that the ODH does not differentiate between a patient dying from COVID-19 or dying with COVID-19.
It also went after the ODH’s COVID-19 public-facing dashboard, saying that it both needed detailed explanation on why it includes its data categories and improved clarity overall.
“Though significant information is available to the public, the usability and clarity of this information could be improved to better guide policy decisions and individual actions,” the report said. “ODH should consider alternatives to daily updates to ensure data completeness and accuracy prior to reporting, as well as leverage trend data to improve public understanding of new case rates.
The auditing department also recommended an update to the Ohio Disease Reporting System, which collects data within the state.
“COVID-19 upended our way of life and forced rapid changes to governing, social interaction, and business practices that understandably fueled uncertainty and speculation from the public at large,” said Auditor of the State Keith Faberr in a statement. “I can report that although inefficiencies, opportunities to improve transparency, and methods to collect better data certainly exist, the Ohio Department of Health has generally provided the public with correct information and managed Ohio’s response to the pandemic commendably.”
The department said that the data collected and provided publicly was generally accurate and clear, even though improvements could be made.
“I would like to thank ODH staff, as well as the medical professionals and front-line workers across the Buckeye State who have worked tirelessly to keep us safe over the last year.” Faber said. “The light at the end of the tunnel is near.”
Read the entire report here.
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