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North Carolina 'reporting error' led to counting over 200,000 more COVID-19 tests than were completed

North Carolina health officials said the error from LabCorp resulted in a higher count of total COVID-19 tests than what was actually performed.
Credit: AP
Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, updates the public during a press briefing on the coronavirus pandemic at the Emergency Operations Center, on Thursday, May 14, 2020, in Raleigh, N.C. (Robert Willett/The News & Observer via AP)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced a data error in tests submitted by LabCorp on Thursday that resulted in over 200,000 more tests being counted than what was actually performed.

The department corrected the state's daily and cumulative test counts submitted by LabCorp from  2,044,727 to 1,823,283. DHHS said the data error wouldn't impact the key COVID-19 trends used to monitor the pandemic, including the number of new positive cases or percentage of tests that are positive. 

"Although this reporting error impacts our count of total tests completed, it does not alter our key metrics or change our understanding of COVID-19 transmission in North Carolina, which shows stabilization over the last few weeks," said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is scheduled to hold a press briefing Thursday afternoon regarding the state's COVID-19 case data and trends. It will be Cooper's first public briefing since the data error was reported, as well as his first public comments since he sent a letter to state lawmakers urging them to expand unemployment benefits during the pandemic.

It did not impact the case count total or the percent positive calculation that NCDHHS reports. Going back to the beginning of the reporting error, the data will be updated to reflect the accurate number of tests performed.

RELATED: Track COVID-19: Carolinas outbreak map

"We determined that from late April until last week, Pixel by LabCorp at-home test collection kits that originated out-of-state but were processed in North Carolina were inadvertently included in the manual data submission to the state. We quickly corrected the issue and provided the updated manual reports to NCDHHS. LabCorp’s daily electronically reported data was accurate and unaffected by the error, and this issue does not affect other states or any results reported to patients or their providers," said Brian Caveney, Chief Medical Officer and President of LabCorp Diagnostics. 

NCDHHS officials said the department is taking proactive steps to increase data quality control and verification processes.

RELATED: NC DHHS: You no longer need a doctor referral to get a COVID-19 test