Nevada prison system reports errors in COVID-19 case counts

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Department of Corrections has been incorrectly reporting COVID-19 cases in facilities because of data entry errors, state officials in Nevada said.

The prison system and the Department of Health and Human Services released a joint statement on Friday that said errors were found in data posted to the state coronavirus dashboard, which tracks cases and deaths in state facilities.

Records obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal said the errors caused cumulative case counts among prisoners and staff to drop by 268 since last week.

“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 health department said.

Department spokesperson Shannon Litz said it discovered the errors last week when the data was reviewed with the Department of Corrections. She believes the errors were all made “recently,” but some date back weeks.

The number of COVID-19 cases at the Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center in North Las Vegas dropped from 142 cases to 74 this week after some prisoner and staff cases were removed from the data. Records show the 142 total had been on the dashboard since at least mid-January.

Other facilities, including the Humboldt Conservation Camp and Jean Conservation Camp, also reported cumulative case numbers that remained unchanged since mid-January.

Litz attributed the discrepancies in part to how the Department of Corrections categorized test kits.

“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.”

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

State data shows there were 4,473 confirmed COVID-19 cases in inmates as of Friday, after the cumulative total was lowered by 201 since Feb. 16. Data also shows there were 966 staff cases as of Friday, down by 67 since Feb. 16. The Review-Journal typically records state facility coronavirus data on Tuesdays.

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.

In another development, Nevada on Saturday reported an additional 459 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 15 more deaths statewide, increasing the pandemic totals to 293,488 cases and 4,957 deaths.