The Atlantic

Pandemic Data Are About to Go Sideways

States are likely to report fewer coronavirus cases, but not because things are getting better.
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Recently, over the course of just one week, the Houston Health Department received more than 110,000 lab reports of COVID-19 test results. In a city of 2.3 million people, “it’s quite a high volume,” says Beau J. Mitts, the department’s bureau chief. Less than two-thirds of those lab reports flow automatically into the health department’s electronic system, according to Mitts. Another 35 percent arrive in digital form but must be imported into the city’s database, and the remainder arrive via fax.

All over the country, health departments are facing such influxes, and many are struggling to keep pace. The latest surge

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