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Dashboard should be correct

We live in an era where most of us carry in our pockets smartphones with many times the computing power of the Apollo Guidance Computer NASA used to get Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the surface of the moon. We can do nearly everything technology has made possible with just the touch of a finger or the sound of our voice. Modern technology is truly a miracle.

And yet, we cannot seem to get county, state and federal computers to talk to each other well enough to ensure the data we need is accurate, during a pandemic that has gone on for nearly a year.

Last week, Ohio’s auditor’s office reported the discovery of as many as 4,000 unreported COVID-19 deaths in the state, after the state Health Department (which, of course, is already out of sync with county health departments) reconciled an internal death certificate database with a federal database.

Republican Auditor Keith Faber has been auditing Health Department coronavirus death data since September, and his communications director says the problem with access to the federal database was federal health privacy laws. Meanwhile, the state Health Department reports “process issues affecting the reconciliation and reporting of these deaths” began in October, with most occurring in November and December.

So now what? It is supposed to take a few days for the state’s tally to reflect the discovery. Last Thursday alone the death toll was shown as 720, with 650 of them being those previously unreported deaths. Eventually, the appropriate dates of death will be on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, officials say.

Again, it has been nearly a year. It should not take a report from the state auditor’s office for those at all levels of reporting and analyzing this data to get their ducks in a row. Ohioans need to know they can trust the information they receive from the state, now as much as ever.

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