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California Has Been ‘Significantly’ Undercounting its COVID-19 Cases For Weeks

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Plus: A big makeover at Hollywood & Highland, and a possible 99 Ranch market coming to Westwood near UCLA

A worker at a restaurant in Santa Monica
Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Uh oh, California. Apparently the state’s apparatus that gathers novel coronavirus data has been malfunctioning for the past few weeks (at least), and that has led to a “significant and unresolved” undercount of current COVID-19 cases. Per Mission Local out of San Francisco, “crippling delays in information filtering back to counties” and a continued undercount of cases threatens to dramatically impact the response to the COVID-19 pandemic across the state, and it all stems from CalREDIE, the statewide disease registry system.

Here’s the reason for the undercount: Testing labs in each county are told to report their data to CalREDIE so the state can have a complete database. Then CalREDIE redirects that information back out to the counties, while also helping to allocate needed resources for contact tracing, hospital staff, and so on. Ongoing tech issues are the reasons for the problem, leading to both a lag in timing and a loss of data overall.

This could mean that California’s recent dip in hospitalizations and positivity rate may be inaccurate, which means the state (and specific counties in particular) could be worse off than anyone knows right now. And with the threat of further business closures and renewed lockdowns still very much real, that inaccurate data could be a very big deal.

And in other news:

  • Hollywood and Highland is getting a massive makeover, says the LA Times. Just like other large mall properties around the city (including the Westfield Pavilion) the structure is being converted partially into office buildings as part of a $100 million remodel meant to attract more locals as well as tourists.
  • Is 99 Ranch opening in Westwood soon? That’s what Reddit seems to think, spotlighting the former 45,000 square foot Ross Dress For Less/Borders book store as the next location for the mega-popular Asian grocery chain.
  • Otosan Sushi is now open in Long Beach at the 2nd and PCH complex. The restaurant was planning to open its sleek modernist dining room before the pandemic, but has been derailed by the coronavirus until now. Expect takeaway and delivery for now, with a more formalized kaiseki-style dining experience inside once allowed.
  • The Doughroom in Palms is planning to expand in the middle of the ongoing pandemic, per What Now LA. The pizza and beer spot is said to be taking over the space of a former laundromat next door.
  • A former employee at the W Hotel in Hollywood is suing the hospitality chain, alleging that he was unjustly fired because of a racially-tinged incident with a white customer who called him “Wakanda,” among other things.
  • The NY Times has called this current moment of chef reckoning and employee attribution discussion the ‘Twilight of the Imperial Chef.’ California critic Tejal Rao writes that the time of the chef as auteur is over, and that now is “the time for change.”
  • Pain Pizza is back tomorrow. The French Bread pop-up is throwing a charity night at Culver City’s Pop’s Bagels, beginning at 5 p.m.