Significant issues with the state's COVID-19 reporting and tracking methods are likely affecting the accuracy of the published positivity rate for the Metro East region, prompting State Senators Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo) and Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) to call on Governor Pritzker to immediately remove the increased restrictions on IDPH Region 4.
"As more and more facts call into question the accuracy of the positivity rate for Region 4, I find it unconscionable that the State of Illinois is shutting down businesses and destroying livelihoods based on a metric that is clearly neither meaningful nor accurate," said State Senator Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo). "Governor Pritzker needs to immediately lift the mitigation measures he imposed on our region several weeks ago."
Schimpf and Plummer noted several issues with the state's data reporting and collection methodology, which could be creating an inaccurate and inflated rate for the region. They noted that IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike confirmed that until recently, Illinois was not including data from some of the largest hospitals and healthcare facilities in the region. One of those networks, BJC HealthCare, provides healthcare to 30% of Metro East residents at several hospitals and clinics in Missouri and Illinois.
“This is a crisis impacting everyone so the lack of transparency and zero accountability from this administration must end,” said State Senator Jason Plummer. “It is shockingly callous for Governor Pritzker and his allies to knowingly use faulty data to implement arbitrary rules that have destroyed economic opportunity for many Illinoisans. Our priority should be to protect the most vulnerable, but this administration is exacerbating the crisis by creating economic hardship and additional health issues for many desperate families.”
Because many Metro East residents utilize Missouri hospitals for medical care and COVID-19 testing services, only including positive test results from those providers would dramatically increase the reported positivity rate for the region.
The Senators also pointed to issues with data collection state-wide, such as individuals being counted multiple times and individuals in state facilities, such as prisons, who do not mingle in the general population being counted. Additionally, according to health officials, some private labs may be submitting only positive results because those are the only results that they are required to release.