ICYMI: Bedford’s Covid-19 Reporting, Explained

Editor’s Note: This message was included in the May 28 update from Bedford’s Covid-19 Task Force and Town Manager Sarah Stanton

The Bedford Board of Health has consistently worked to identify, communicate with and conduct contact traces, as appropriate, on COVID-19 positive cases (Bedford residents) specifically attributed to Bedford by the MA DPH communicable disease surveillance database (MAVEN). Upon review of the data, several times each day, when an attributed positive case is identified that is not currently a Bedford resident (determined from provided demographic data or interviewing), we ensure the case is referred to the appropriate city/town Board of Health for appropriate follow-up. Today, we are providing an update on recently identified data anomalies in an effort to openly communicate with the Bedford community on some COVID-19 positive case count fluctuations that occurred today and we will see over the coming days.

On April 15th, the Board of Health first reported two identified issues where COVID-19 positive cases were inappropriately attributed to Bedford. The first issue was that wide-spread testing at long term care facilities in town resulted in staff, who live out of town, indicating their “location” as Bedford and being added to our total MAVEN case count. The second issue was that COVID-19 positive people, living out of town (at a long term care [facility], at school, at a different permanent residence) indicated their “location” as Bedford when in fact they live out of town or out of state and are being followed there.

While the BOH continues to rectify these data discrepancies while ensuring that all positive cases are being appropriately followed-up by the responsible Board of Health or facility, contact tracing conducted and isolation and quarantine protocols followed, we have recently identified a third anomaly with COVID-19 positive case reporting in Bedford by MAVEN. The most recent issue is that there is a lag in the BOH’s receipt of COVID-19 positive case reports from a long term care facility through MAVEN. It appears to be a communication issue between the lab conducting the analysis, the facility requesting the analysis, and the state agency that oversees long term care facilities as to who is reporting the positive cases to MAVEN. While the facility itself monitors these cases and conducts contact tracing, the positive case counts were never entered into MAVEN for BOH tracking and positive case count reporting.

This anomaly is in addition to the two existing concerns, first reported on April 15th. While the BOH continues to work with the labs, local facilities and MA DPH to have the identified cases assigned or reassigned to their appropriate community for surveillance, the Bedford COVID-19 positive cases counts have markedly increased today due to the “data dump” into MAVEN.  Future fluctuations are anticipated once non-resident long-term care staff and out of town folks attributing their location to Bedford are removed from Bedford’s case count and reassigned to the appropriate community.

We anticipate MA DPH’s cooperation in rectifying all the data anomalies but this may take some time. Please be advised that today’s increase in positive case counts does not represent a surge in positive cases throughout Bedford but an identified COVID-19 cluster in a long term care facility that has been closed to the public months and is being monitored by internal facility staff, state regulators and infection control specialists. As such, the potential for community spread by impacted residents at this facility is considered low. Bedford is not alone in having to rectify erroneous data attributions; however, the Board of Health and the COVID-19 task force are at the forefront of openly communicating to our residents on a daily basis. As such, we are compelled to inform and update the public as data changes, explain the change and provide an accurate case count for our community.

Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today. Contact The Bedford Citizen: editor@thebedfordcitizen.org or 781-430-8837

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Mike Rosenberg can be reached at mike@thebedfordcitizen.org, or 781-983-1763


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