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Nevada Department of Corrections erred in reporting of COVID-19 cases

The Department of Corrections has been incorrectly reporting coronavirus cases in Nevada facilities because of data entry errors, state officials said.

According to a joint statement from the prison system and the Department of Health and Human Services, reporting errors were found in the data posted to Nevada’s coronavirus dashboard that tracks cases and deaths in state facilities. The data errors caused cumulative case counts among prisoners and staff to drop by 268 since last week, according to records maintained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The state health department’s office of public health investigations and epidemiology discovered the errors last week “when data was reviewed with NDOC,” health department spokeswoman Shannon Litz said in an emailed statement.

“Incorrect identification of facilities resulted in duplicate entries, coding issues and the inclusion of negative COVID-19 test results which were then posted to the dashboard as confirmed positive cases,” the department said.

Litz said the department believes the errors were all made “recently.”

However, some errors were found to go back weeks.

The total number of coronavirus cases associated with the Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center, in the northeast Las Vegas Valley, dropped from 142 total cases to 74 this week when some prisoner and staff cases were removed from the data. The 142 cumulative total had been reported on the state’s dashboard since at least mid-January, records show.

Other facilities, such as Humboldt Conservation Camp and Jean Conservation Camp, had also been reporting cumulative case numbers since mid-January that hadn’t changed until this week, when their case counts were slightly lowered.

Litz said some of the discrepancies come from how the Department of Correction categorized test kits assigned to each facility.

“Some kits were shared among neighboring facilities, and the results were assigned to the wrong institution,” she said. “NDOC has reviewed the data and assigned the results by name of the test recipient rather than by test kit.”

Meanwhile, Wells Conservation Camp, which had 79 coronavirus cases among prisoners and employees as of Feb. 16, was removed from the dashboard this week. Although the camp has been reporting cases since at least early January, Litz said there are no active cases at the facility.

The Department of Corrections did not respond to a request for comment.

As of Friday, state data shows 4,473 prisoner cases of COVID-19, after the cumulative total was lowed by 201 since Feb. 16, records show. The Review-Journal typically records state facility coronavirus data on Tuesdays.

There were 966 cumulative staff cases in the department as of Friday. The cumulative total had decreased by 67 since Feb. 16.

Fifty-three prisoners have died of the coronavirus in Nevada, along with three staff members, according to state data.

Litz said the state prison system is required to update its data in a reporting system daily.

“The departments are working together to ensure there are no gaps in reporting or understanding of the reporting systems going forward,” she said.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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