Today, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced another data dump of cases blamed on a nonreporting lab. The withheld data go all the way back to Dec. 31. No surprise; an infusion of nearly two weeks’ worth of data leaves a record breaking “daily” case count.

Nevertheless, DHHS’s web site makes it clear:

During Dec. 31, 2021 through Jan. 11, 2022, some laboratory results from GENETWORx laboratory were not submitted to NCDHHS. As a result, 36,473 test results (including 10,791 positive results) from this period were not included in data on the NCDHHS data dashboard. This issue did not cause any delays in results being sent to patients or providers. The issue with submission of results from GENETWORx to NCDHHS has been resolved; case and test data reported on Thursday, Jan. 13 will be higher as it will incorporate data that would have been reported on earlier dates. (Emphasis added.)

The reliable fearmongers at WRAL knew exactly what to do:

“In the past 24 hours”

The accompanying story by Ali Ingersoll, WRAL investigative data reporter, and Jodi Leese Glusco, WRAL director of digital content, followed up (emphasis added):

Nearly 44,900 positive COVID-19 tests have been reported to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services over the past 24 hours, far and away the single largest number of single-day new cases of the on-going pandemic.

To put these records in context: the number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday is more than the total populations of Morrisville, Garner or Fuquay-Varina, according to data from the 2020 U.S. Census.

If your intent is to scare people by giving a false impression, but without lying, you could do what the lede sentence did and say “Nearly 44,900 positive tests have been reported” in the past 24 hours to DHHS and hope readers are led to believe they were all new test results. But you flub that chicanery by then centering it in the second paragraph on “the number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday” (today).

You certainly can’t say, as WRAL’s danger-red “BREAKING” banner does: “44,833 people in NC tested positive for COVID in the past 24 hrs.”

On the third paragraph, they explain what happened. So they can’t even be excused for somehow missing the data dump.

From Dec. 31 through Jan. 11, some laboratory results from the GENETWORx laboratory were not submitted to the state, causing Thursday’s numbers to be higher as the figures included data that otherwise would have been reported earlier. 

Absolutely inexcusable.