Following test results dust-up, California to unveil a new COVID-19 reporting system in October

 Cars line up at a COVID19 test site at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 12.
Cars line up at a COVID-19 test site at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 12 in Los Angeles.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

A month after a state public health computer database failure caused the distortion of COVID-19 test results across California and disrupted the state’s response to the pandemic, the Newsom administration on Tuesday announced that a new reporting system will be online in October.

The state signed a contract with software company OptumInsight Inc. for a database that will handle all COVID-19 testing results, replacing the troubled California Reportable Disease Information Exchange, or CalREDIE.

Because of a glitch in that system in late July, up to 300,000 test results had not been uploaded to the database, raising doubts about the effectiveness of the state‘s actions taken to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s health and human services director, said the new data repository will be “robust” enough to ensure that the state has the testing information necessary to adequately respond to the pandemic.

“Hopefully we close some of the information gaps that we have on demographic information,” Ghaly said in a Tuesday news conference. “Really enhancing the state’s ability to not just see where transmission is happening, but to understand some of the more detailed, nuanced pieces.”

The state Department of Public Health signed a six-month $15.3-million contract with OptumInsight to create the data system. The state used federal grant funds to pay for the contract.


Ghaly said the CalREDIE system was never designed to handle the tens of thousands of test results coming into the state every day. That database also receives all data on other reportable diseases filed by local public health officials.

Without an accurate picture of confirmed cases, many local officials who rely on the CalREDIE system had to conduct their own tallies to understand how the virus spread in their communities.

The caseload of COVID-19 testing results is expected to nearly double in the months ahead. Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a $1.6-billion contract with an East Coast medical diagnostics company to double the number of coronavirus tests that can be processed in the state, eventually expanding capacity to roughly a quarter-million tests per day.