City of Lubbock’s new COVID data system to debut Wednesday evening

City of Lubbock’s new COVID data system to debut Wednesday evening

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - In today’s City of Lubbock’s news conference, Katherine Wells with The Health Department said that there are almost 10,000 coronavirus cases reported in our area, and we could hit that number by Wednesday evening.

With all of those coronavirus cases, Wells announced that the city is switching to a new COVID data system to help better track those with active cases. She said that since the pandemic started back in March, health department employees have been manually entering data they received.

“We’ve just been doing some behind the scenes upgrades to the system. Initially, when COVID started, everything was just managed on an Excel spreadsheet. So really working with our IT department to build in some better ways to import data,” said Wells.

Wells said since the pandemic started back in March, health department employees have been manually entering data they received through faxes.

“We’re really behind the times when it comes to data transfers within public health, and a lot of it is still very much fax based,” explained Wells. “You receive a fax, an administrative assistant enters that information into a database. Somebody creates a paper file, and then you and then you investigate from that paper. It works when we’re using small amounts of data, or only doing so many investigations a week, but when you start looking at having 30 or 40 people working in a system, and hundreds of cases a day, you really need a better way to manage that data.”

Now, data will be submitted by each hospital daily, allowing for ‘cleaner’ and faster data to be received by the health department.

“This allows us to better import those reports from the hospital into our database so we can start doing the contact tracing sooner,” said Wells.

Wells said the health department will also be able to better track exposures and ‘hot spots’ in the community, “because it allows us to query and look at trends better. Instead of reviewing paperwork, we could actually pull a report that says, X number of cases mentioned a specific restaurant or all these people work in the same place, so let’s go out and talk to that entity about how to better control the spread of disease.”

Wells says she doesn’t expect any hiccups in the number of COVID cases when they switch over to the new system.

“Our goal is to make it seamless. So right now, I’ve been running both data systems at the same time. And hopefully, this (Wednesday) evening, we’ll be able to make that switch and actually report out of the new system instead of reporting out of the old system.”

You can find the City of Lubbock’s COVID information on their website, click here.

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