Georgia’s Department of Public Health is being called out by epidemiology experts, elected officials and residents for releasing misleading information about COVID-19 numbers in the state, which was one of the first in the country to reopen in the midst of the pandemic.
The DPH published a graph to its website last week that appeared to show Georgia’s COVID-19 cases decreasing—because the data was organized in a way that no reasonable (or honest) person would think makes sense:
In fact, there was no clear downward trend. The data is still preliminary, and cases have held steady or dropped slightly in the past two weeks. Experts agree that cases in those five counties were flat when Georgia began to reopen late last month.
DPH changed the graph Monday after more than a day of online mockery, public concern and a letter from a state representative. Gov. Brian Kemp’s office issued an apology and its spokespeople said they’d never make this kind of mistake again.
Candice Broce, communications director for Kemp, tweeted an explanation after the state’s health department was called out for the misleading graph:
Sounds like a lot of gibberish to say, “we lied.”
According to AJC, the same DPH has also been caught reporting more confirmed cases than actual tests performed and is currently displaying Georgia’s COVID-19 deaths with a chart on its website that makes the number appear to be almost zero.
Experts in Georgia are now calling foul on the pattern of shoddy data coming from the DPH during coronavirus.
A clinical associate professor at the Georgia State University School of Public Health, called the most recent mix-up “criminal” and said DPH has shown a pattern of reporting misleading data.
“I have a hard time understanding how this happens without it being deliberate,” said State Rep. Jasmine Clark, D-Lilburn, who received her doctorate in microbiology and molecular genetics at Emory University. “Literally nowhere ever in any type of statistics would that be acceptable.”
While Kemp has said he is using data to guide decision-making about lifting coronavirus-related restrictions in Georgia, it’s probably a good idea for black people who reside in the state to question any assurances from a governor who has been under investigation for stealing the last election through voter suppression.