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New ODH system must be as fast as possible

Better late than never, as the Ohio Department of Health announced this week it will retire the manual reporting system it had been using to provide what it claimed was a real-time death toll from COVID-19. Readers will recall that system was blamed last month for the undercounting of more than 4,200 virus deaths in Ohio.

“We have been building the plane as we fly it,” Health Director Stephanie McCloud said Tuesday. “And unfortunately, we weren’t given all new parts to build it well. We did not have time to stop the plane to land it, get the new parts that we need, and then take off again.”

Those who manage private businesses can probably relate, though it should be noted none of them would be able to get away with using such a poorly built plane for almost a year, particularly if they had another, more reliable model already on hand.

ODH says it will now use a slower but more reliable and accurate system to count virus-related deaths, which had been used as a quality check to reconcile the data from the manual system that failed. The difference will mean only confirmed, instead of probable, deaths being listed every few days instead of probable deaths listed daily.

Republican state Auditor Keith Faber is expected to issue a final audit of the 2020 coronavirus death count later this month, when we should get a better idea just how out of whack the numbers have been.

Ohioans deserve quick, accurate information as they continue the fight against this monster. If a longer delay is necessary to ensure the information we receive reflects reality, so be it. ODH must not, however, make the use of a reportedly slower system an excuse to keep numbers from the public any longer than is absolutely necessary.

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