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Gov. Ricketts: White House COVID-19 data about Nebraska is wrong

Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 6:41 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Gov. Pete Ricketts said Monday that “the White House was using bad data” when it put Nebraska on a list of “red zone” states for COVID-19 last week.

“If you look at our data, we have never crossed that 10% positivity threshold, so the White House putting us on that list, in my opinion, was a mistake, and I don’t believe his advisors are serving the president well if they’re giving him bad data on what’s going on here,” he said during his COVID-19 news conference Monday morning.

Ricketts said the White House was not sorting out repeated positive test results for the same individual fighting the same instance of COVID-19. He said the state is working to get accurate Nebraska COVID-19 data to the White House.

The governor said the White House had incorrectly reported the state had a 14% positivity rate.

The Center for Public Integrity article published last week, which cited July 14 data and quoted White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, said Nebraska had been “recently added” to the list of “red zone” states, and that Omaha was among 11 cities raising concern.

On Monday evening, the Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus dashboards were displaying the state’s positivity rate at 8.3% positive for the day; 8.04% for the past week, with a record weekly high of 18.07% in early May; and 7.75% for the month, with a record monthly high of 14.94% in April.

The COVID-19 dashboard run by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services doesn’t report the state’s positivity rate, but Ricketts said Monday the math is pretty easy to do with the data that is provided on the dashboard — “just divide the cases and tests to get the positivity rates” — and that perhaps the state might consider adding that information to the website.

Ricketts said Monday that he believed Dr. Birx was would be visiting Lincoln, but said he didn’t yet know when.

“My understanding is that Dr. Birx is making a tour of Midwestern states to sit down and talk to them about the pandemic response, and Nebraska is one of those states,” he said.

Full comments from today’s news conference

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