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BURLINGTON — What appeared to be the biggest COVID-19 daily case count during the pandemic turned out to erroneous and the cause of an “IT glitch.”

In a news release, the Vermont Department of Health said the Agency of Human Services and the Agency of Digital Services “determined Friday that an outside vendor’s IT issue delayed the delivery of test results, artificially inflating Thursday’s report of 314 new cases of COVID-19 by 109.”

“The IT glitch has been resolved and the state has identified the number of cases affected,” the department said. “State officials, however, emphasized that although the glitch impacted the one-day total, the cumulative number of cases over these days is accurate.”

Case counts affected state reporting from Sept. 11 to 15, according to the news release.

On Friday morning, staff from the two agencies met with the Broad Institute and Broad’s IT vendor Ellkay. The department said further analysis determined that a total of 237 positive case reports were delayed by the data glitch and about 11,297 Vermonters had experienced delays in receiving their test results.

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The department said Ellkay provides services for Broad to about 12 states and indicated that the slowdown also affected Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island. The company’s review “identified that Ellkay added a column to their software program that caused the slowdown in reporting, which went unnoticed because the higher volumes of tests masked the slowdown,” according to the news release.

“Tests were still being transmitted through the IT system but at much slower speeds and thus results were delayed starting with the samples that were submitted on Sept. 9,” the department said. “Ellkay is implementing new monitoring tools to help avoid these issues going forward.”

The 314 cases would have been the highest number in a single day but Vermont’s daily record stands at 266 and came on March 31, according to department data. On Sunday, Vermont reported 209 new COVID-19 cases.

Health officials noted in an earlier news release the importance of prevention steps because the Delta variant is more easily transmitted.


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