Arizona DHS is ignoring COVID-19 test results that arrive by fax? Oh, come on …

It’s bad enough that Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has decreed it optional for school districts to abide by public health benchmarks developed by his own administration to signal when it’s safe to reopen.

Now we learn that one of those three benchmarks may not even be accurate.

The Arizona Republic’s Alison Steinbach and Maria Polletta report that the state is tossing out nearly a quarter of reported positive test results when calculating the percentage of Arizonans who have tested positive for COVID-19.

This, because labs are faxing in the test results rather than transmitting them electronically.

Apparently, it’s just too big of a hassle to enter the numbers into a computer.

“It’s a lot of data entry,” state Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ told The Republic.

How accurate is it? We don’t know

Christ says using 75% of the positive test results to calculate the state’s “percent positivity” provides a “pretty good representation” of the spread of the disease.

“What we’re trying to do is get a general idea of what the level of disease is in the population,” she said.

Others, however, say DHS could be skewing the numbers by ignoring results that come in from labs that are not hooked electronically into state’s reporting system.

No one really knows the effect of tossing out nearly a quarter of the positive test results.

That’s important because the state is using “percent positivity” as one of three benchmarks to guide when it’s safe to reopen not only our schools but gyms, theaters, water parks and bars.

The good news is everyone agrees that the state’s positivity rate is declining.

The bad news? We have no idea what it really is and thus no clue the true spread of the disease right now.

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