Although a state public health graphic appeared to show the number of new coronavirus infections dropping every day over a two-week period, in actuality, there has been no such decline, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In fact, the numbers have been flat in Georgia’s five counties with the highest coronavirus numbers, the newspaper reported.
“It’s just cuckoo,” Democratic state Rep. Scott Holcomb, told the AJC. He sent a letter about the inaccuracies Monday to the governor’s office. “I don’t know how anyone can defend this graph as not being misleading. I really don’t,” he said.
The graphic had dates scrambled out of chronological order from April 27 to May 9. It also presented Georgia’s five counties reporting the highest COVID-19 numbers out of order from day to day, giving the appearance of a downward slope in cases.
Gov. Brian Kemp’s office issued an apology and fixed the graphic shortly after its dissemination. “The x axis was set up that way to show descending values to more easily demonstrate peak values and counties on those dates,” governor’s spokeswoman Candice Broce tweeted May 11. “Our mission failed. We apologize. It is fixed.”
The same day Kemp allowed beauty salons, gyms, barbershops, bowling alleys, and tattoo parlors to reopen, ending the state’s short-lived shelter-in-place order, there were 26,705 coronavirus cases and 1,096 resulting deaths, according to the state’s Department of Public Health. Those numbers increased to 28,331 total coronavirus cases and 1,240 resulting deaths four days later on April 28, state data shows. By Sunday, Georgia had tested 351,175 people and found 37,642 COVID-19 cases. More than 1,600 people have died from the virus.
Although Broce said the governor’s office doesn’t decide what data the Department of Public Health publishes, Democratic State Rep. Jasmine Clark told the AJC she finds it hard to believe this type of data error could happen “without being deliberate.” “Literally nowhere ever in any type of statistics would that be acceptable,” she said.