JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - While weekly totals of coronavirus cases dropped Sunday for the first time in two months, health care providers warn that the decrease may not truly reflect the pandemic across the state because cases continue to go under reported from urgent care clinics in multiple counties.
“Please: docs, clinics, you’ve gotta let us know who the cases are,” State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs told 3 On Your Side on Monday. “We can’t intervene in your communities. We can’t call these patients and do case investigations if you don’t tell us about them.”
Dobbs believes that lack of reporting on such a large scale could cripple his agency’s ability to do its job because they wouldn’t have accurate information to use in deploying resources and restrictions.
The practice has been going on for weeks now, according to Dobbs, primarily from urgent care clinics that utilize rapid testing.
Why does it keep happening?
Dobbs believes the immense demand for testing at these clinics -- and the quick nature of the test itself -- means some simply don’t take the time to send the results to the Mississippi State Department of Health.
“Although it is another paperwork burden, we need to be mindful of the legal requirement. It affects more than just the person’s busy day, it affects what the state does and decisions that are made,” said Dr. Jennifer Bryan, who serves as chair of the board of trustees for the state’s medical association.
Dobbs said they don’t know which clinics are reporting and which ones aren’t -- which would be difficult to determine based on the data available.
Instead, they’re using the rapid testing machines themselves to help find clinics that are breaking the law.
“We’re working with the manufacturers of the different, the rapid tests, to identify where their clients are in Mississippi so that we can contact those guys and see. If we’re not getting reports back from these clinics, we’ll know who’s not reporting,” Dobbs said.
Until then, Bryan says she’ll take these possible declines with a grain of salt.
“Certainly, we see the disease increasing right now, and these numbers are not indicative of what we’re seeing on the ground,” Bryan said.