State is under reporting the positive rate of COVID-19 tests

Published: Aug. 28, 2020 at 7:12 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Our I9 team found the state is under-reporting the positive rate of COVID-19 tests in the state on their website to show the state of the pandemic is better than reality.

UPDATE: Iowa’s Governor’s Office offered two factors behind the difference in data reporting.

The positivity rate is the key metric to track the spread of the virus, the effectiveness of the response to the virus, and is used to determine when a school district can move classes fully online.

It is also another reason to question if the state’s data is skewed to make the pandemic look better in Iowa after the state admitted to a major flaw in its coronavirus data that backdated thousands of positive and negative test results. The mistake also made the current pandemic picture look better.

Our I9 team also found on Wednesday Iowa can’t track the number of positive, negative, or inconclusive tests performed by Test Iowa or another test.

Just like the state our I9 team tracks the data every day and makes our own calculations. Our data dramatically differs from the data the website displays

The state’s coronavirus website reports 10.2% of all tests over the last 14 days came back positive, but our tracking shows the positivity rate was 11.8 percent.

This differential becomes larger if you look at certain days.

  • On August 16, the state shows a 7% positive rate but data shows it’s actually 10%.
  • On August 23, the state reported a positive rate of around 9%, but our data shows it was around 15%.
  • On August 24, the state reported a 12% positive rate but our data shows it’s actually around 19%

This comes as Iowa shattered its record for new Covid-19 cases in one day, more than 2,600 new cases. But, about half of that came from adding months’ worth of Antigen tests to the count. This also skews the data to show a positivity rate of more than 80% today.

Even without the Antigen tests, the positivity rate is still above 30%.

Our I9 team reached out to the state to explain the reporting discrepancy but did not get an answer.

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