Panhandle Health District blames surge in COVID cases, staffing shortage for major backlog

Panhandle Health District
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KOOTENAI CO., Idaho — The Panhandle Health District says a recent surge in COVID-19 cases and staffing shortages are to blame for a major backlog in July and August.

Backlogs in case reporting create several major issues for local health districts and the communities they serve. In May, Washington also experienced a significant backlog that resulted in a spike of positive COVID cases.

“We only report the number of cases processed that day, so the public doesn’t see the actual situation,” PHD interim director Don Duffy said.

The health district provided an example of just how significant the backlog in reporting had been. Last Friday, PHD reported 36 cases. However, in reality, the health district had more than 900 tests left to process.

“We have temporarily mobilized PHD staff away from their current responsibilities to quickly eliminate the backlog,” Duffy said. “It is important for us to be transparent with our community as we know that schools, businesses and individuals make important decisions based on the information we provide.”

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