The Pac-12 presidents and chancellors’ unanimous decision last month to postpone all conference sports competition until at least Jan. 1 came after they saw a presentation that included erroneous statistics that overstated the prevalence of COVID-19 in several of the conference’s communities during the first week of August.
The most glaring incorrect metric listed the seven-day average positivity rate for tests in Los Angeles County as 19% — more than three times the 5.49% average listed by the L.A. County Department of Public Health.
The Pac-12 says it pulled the data from COVID Act Now, the L.A. County Department of Public Health and California Department of Public Health on Aug. 8. Those three sources all deny ever listing the inaccurate statistic and an L.A. County Department of Public Health official said the seven-day average positivity rate for tests in Los Angeles County has never been 19%.
A member of the conference’s medical advisory group says it still would have recommended delaying the season, even without that statistic.
“The data presented by the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee to the CEO Group was accurately sourced at the time,” Dr. Kim Harmon, associate team physician at the University of Washington, said Thursday in a statement via the Pac-12 to The Oregonian/OregonLive. “To the extent that there were subsequent updates to the reported data by COVID Act Now, state or local dashboards, they would not have changed the overarching recommendation of the Medical Advisory Committee to the CEO Group.”
A review of the statistics featured in the 13-slide presentation by the Pac-12′s Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being Initiative and COVID-19 Advisory Committee to the conference’s presidents and chancellors, obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive via a public records request, reveals numerous discrepancies in data for the seven-day moving average of positive tests within the counties of Pac-12 schools. The seven-day average is one of the two primary metrics used by the conference’s medical experts regarding the prevalence level of the virus. The other was new infections per 100,000 residents within the county of each member school.
The conference used those metrics to determine how frequently athletes should be tested at each of its 12 schools, per the Harvard Global Health Institute’s recommendations. Based on the data, Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, USC and Utah were recommended to test daily. Cal, Colorado, Washington and Washington State were recommended to test every other day and Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford were recommended to test every three days.
The Oregonian/OregonLive found all the data for the new infections per 100,000 residents aligned with data listed by COVID Act Now.
But the newsroom found significant discrepancies between what was presented to presidents for at least four of 11 counties of the conference’s schools and published data from COVID Act Now, county and state health departments, though some were explainable. That led to corresponding overstated recommendations for testing frequency at UCLA, USC, Washington, Washington State, Colorado and possibly Arizona.
The origins for…