Data gremlins at COVID-19 testing site

High number of ‘pending’ results are due to problems loading data into the state reporting system.

Are you still waiting for your COVID-19 test results from the OptumServe site and hearing there is an overload of pending results?

A chart of OptumServe data drawn from the results of testing done at the Veterans Memorial Building in Hollister has created confusion as to how many COVID-19 tests have been processed, how many test results are still pending, and what “pending” really means.

Tracey Belton, director of the San Benito County Health and Human Services Agency, offers a weekly update at the San Benito County Board of Supervisors meeting on the status of COVID-19 cases within the county.

As part of her presentation at the supervisors’ June 16 meeting, Belton introduced Mallory Schmitt, an epidemiologist with the San Benito County Public Health Services, who discussed the current state of coronavirus testing. Schmitt displayed a chart of results from OptumServe that indicated 1,395 tests out of 2,322 administered were “pending.”  

Schmitt said this is, in part, the result of an error in sending the information to the California Reportable Disease Information Exchange (CalREDIE), an electronic reporting system the state uses as a central clearinghouse for public health records.

CalREDIE is part of the California Disease Emergency Response program and used by all 61 local health departments in the state, taking in results from over 350 laboratories. 

However, the problem does not prevent OptumServe from reporting results to patients in a timely way, which it does through Logistics Health Incorporated (LHI.Care).

In a subsequent interview, Schmitt explained “OptumServe had a glitch in their system, and when they uploaded the results to CalREDIE, something malfunctioned. We are now waiting for them to go back and retroactively process those reports. We are hoping that a large number will go down to a couple hundred by the end of next week.”

One issue causing the delay is attributable to the commuter culture of San Benito County. Schmitt said additional sorting of records needs to be done “due to the fact that many people are being tested at the OptumServe site in Hollister who are not our county residents.”

While the test site is intended for use by San Benito County residents, there are no restrictions on who can be tested there. For example, people living in other counties but working in San Benito are eligible for testing here, and may choose to be tested here out of convenience.

The results from those people need to be reported to the county in which they reside and are included in their results. This extra step is causing a small backlog. 

Until those results are sorted and sent to CalREDIE, they are not included in San Benito County’s results reported each day. However, this number most likely does not include anyone who has tested positive.

“Most of the positives are entered manually into CalREDIE,” Schmitt said. “When you see six cases reported, all six of those are from that day. The majority of the pending cases, 99% of them, are negative.”

As records are processed, they are added retroactively to the applicable dates, not to the date they were accepted by CalREDIE. However, despite being marked “pending,” tests are being processed through the laboratories with little or no delays. OptumServe has been reporting totals of new tests along with cumulative information on tests and results once a week.

A recent report, for example, covers tests done between June 7-11. It indicates that a total of 2,568 tests have been done so far since the facility opened, with 2,344 tests processed, leaving 224 unprocessed tests‬.

The Veterans Memorial Building site can test 132 people a day. Over the course of the last 28 testing days, 2,322 tests have been conducted, out of a possible 3,696 appointments, which means the facility has been working at 62% of its capacity.

Free appointments for COVID-19 testing are still available through LHI.Care.


Screenshot of OptumServe testing statistics.
Screenshot of OptumServe testing statistics.

Robert Eliason

I got my start as a photographer when my dad stuck a camera in my hand on the evening of my First Grade Open House. He taught me to observe, empathize, then finally compose the shot.  The editors at BenitoLink first approached me as a photographer. They were the ones to encourage me to write stories about things that interest me, turning me into a reporter as well.  BenitoLink is a great creative family that cares deeply about the San Benito community and I have been pleased to be a part of it.