The Georgia Department of Public Health’s published count of statewide COVID-19 cases declined during the weekend because the agency corrected a data coding error, a spokeswoman said Monday.
The agency mistakenly logged the results of 231 tests that check for COVID-19 antibodies as diagnostic tests, causing them to be coded as confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, DPH spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said.
The case count ticked down Sunday when the error was corrected. Current confirmed cases stand at about 38,000.
Antibody tests are designed to tell those who are not currently ill whether they were exposed to the virus. Diagnostic tests show whether a person is currently sick.
"We are working diligently to provide the most accurate information, and we apologize for any confusion," the agency said in a written statement. DPH disclosed the error on its online daily status report, where the mistake originally appeared.
Georgians are watching closely the COVID-19 case count and other measures on DPH's online status report as they judge whether its safe to resume work and other activities. DPH has come under fire in recent weeks for presenting confusing or incorrect information on its online status report.
Willoughby Mariano is an investigative reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she focuses on housing and criminal justice issues. She previously worked for the AJC's PolitiFact Georgia, where she fact checked the claims of elected officials, and at the Orlando Sentinel, where she covered crime and breaking news.