Bossier Parish COVID-19 Data from LDH: Often Misleading; Here’s Why

Bossier Parish COVID-19 Data from LDH: Often Misleading; Here's Why

Determining the trend of COVID-19 cases in Bossier Parish — or any parish in Louisiana — is difficult. The problem: the Louisiana Department of Health’s inconsistent reporting of daily cases.

A chart of the cumulative and daily new cases of the coronavirus in Bossier Parish is skewed by sudden peaks of case reports. And those spikes do not reflect a resurgence of the virus in our home parish but rather the inconsistent collection of data.

There are at least a couple of reasons why the data can be misleading and confusing.

First, LDH has changed reporting protocols at least once. On Thursday, May 21, the Louisiana Department of Health reported 21 new cases in Bossier Parish. The spike was startling. The previous high for coronovirus cases reported in the parish on a single day was 31 on April 4. The reporting of daily cases by the LDH began on March 14.

However, LDH said nearly two thirds of the cases reported that day were from 23 labs submitting cases electronically for the first time. These labs previously had not reported. And the cases did not represent a 24 hour increase, but actually were cases tested as far back as March 25.

And on Monday, May 25, Bossier Parish saw another spike in daily cases —16 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours.

But again, the sudden rise was a data anomaly.

LDH resolved a server issue (they have had several server glitches during the outbreak) that impacted reporting of commercial lab data on May 23 and 24. More than 95% of the impacted labs were pulled into Monday’s report.

Trying to get a sense of how Bossier Parish is faring in containing and reducing the virus from LDH data is difficult, if not impossible.

Yet, some of LDH’s data is much more straightforward, such as deaths in the parish by race:

Bossier Parish Deaths by Race Deaths 2018 Population
American Indian/Alaskan Native 0 804
Asian 0 2,431
Black 15 29,098
Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander 0 184
Other 0 3,146
Unknown 0 N/A
White 10 91,522

Another report that reflects consistent data is the tracking of cases by Census tracts within the parish.

The greatest concentration of COVID-19 cases in Bossier Parish (13% of the total) are reported in tract 106.01, a 5.2 square mile area south of I-220 and north of I-20, east of Airline Drive and roughly the western half of the loop within the two interstates.

This area would be deemed the parish’s ‘hot spot’ for COVID-19.

Data reporting deaths by race and cases by specific geography may be tangible. But while LDH-provided information is driving the state’s effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, some of the numbers don’t necessarily represent prevailing trends.

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