SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Santa Barbara County underreported COVID-19 deaths over the last month, due to a reporting error.
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department said 28 coronavirus-related deaths were excluded from the county's tally over the last month as the county changed reporting systems.
Near the end of May, the department began transitioning from a manual data program to the state’s California Connected electronic platform.
During this transition — as COVID-19 cases began spiking throughout the county — incorrect statistics were inputted into their new database.
"Because of the transition from one system to another, we lost count of the death certificates that were coming through,” public health director Van Do-Reynoso said.
The additional deaths were delayed from the county's total from June 22 - July 27.
Sixteen of these twenty-eight individuals were from Santa Maria with the remainder spread throughout the region.
"We're being fully transparent about this issue,” county Board of Supervisors chairman Gregg Hart said. “There is no way to sugarcoat this news."
This significant error was first identified by the county health department on Wednesday.
"We are all experiencing data challenges in one form or another,” Do-Reynoso said.
"The public health department is conducting a top to bottom review of its data systems,” Hart said.
On Friday, 74 new cases were announced in Santa Barbara County. 85 people are currently hospitalized, 28 of which are currently in the ICU.
Throughout the week, COVID-19 cases dropped by 29% compared to the previous seven-day span.
"Today the case rate fell for the first time in many weeks,” public health officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said. “I find this very encouraging."
In response to this major mistake, the county board of supervisors has authorized new funding to hire additional data experts from the county health department.
"Moving forward, we will be reporting deaths directly from death certificates,” Do-Reynoso said.
Santa Barbara County’s death count has nearly doubled, with 61 total fatalities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
For a complete breakdown of cases, click here.