SALT LAKE CITY — Governor Spencer Cox apologized Monday after new data showed the state has failed to vaccinate 70% of adults despite a previous announcement that the mark had been set.
"We screwed up. And I sincerely apologize," Gov. Cox wrote in an open letter to Utahns.
The governor announced on July 6 that 70% of those over the age of 18 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. But on Monday, the governor's office and Utah's Department of Health acknowledged the real number is around 67%.
"Our data team is devastated and embarrassed. And so am I," Gov. Cox wrote.
State health officials told FOX 13 on Monday the issue came down to misinterpreting how federal data is reported to UDOH. The agency pulls data from local health departments, who are required to give daily totals of vaccinations. But systems like the VA, tribal services and U.S. Department of Defense are not necessarily required to give their data to Utah for an accounting.
The agency interpreted all federal doses reported as "new," when they were "cumulative." It led to single-doses being counted numerous times.
"It is disappointing to discover we did not reach our goal of vaccinating 70% of adults with at least one dose by July 4. And we regret that inaccurate information was relayed to Gov. Cox and the people of Utah. But we remain steadfast in our commitment to presenting data accurately, transparently, and with integrity," UDOH said in a statement Monday.
Gov. Cox said in his open letter that "while federal data sharing has been extremely difficult, this one is on us." As he credited the efforts of health department employees in his letter, the governor promised future data can be trusted.
"From the beginning we have emphasized the importance of building trust with the citizens of our state. Trust consists of two things: competence and ethical behavior. While we came up short as a result of simple human error, I’m happy to report that there is no evidence of any ethical breaches in this mistake. Our data team at the Department of Health has been incredible throughout this pandemic. At times working around the clock, these public servants have been recognized as one of the most thorough and transparent data teams in the country.
"While this miscalculation is inexcusable, they have re-examined processes to prevent this type of error from happening again."
The governor's office declined FOX 13s requests for an interview Monday.
UDOH said it was still very important Utahns get vaccinated.
"With the highly transmissible Delta variant spreading in Utah, it is more important than ever for all eligible Utahns to get vaccinated. We will continue to do everything we can to make getting vaccinated as easy as possible, and to help provide Utahns accurate information to help them make informed decisions about the vaccine," the agency said.
Welp. We screwed up. Because of a reporting error we have not yet hit 70% on our adult vaccinations. I promised to admit our mistakes and hold us accountable. I hope you will forgive us—and know we have made changes to ensure it won’t happen again. pic.twitter.com/NZK8A8gabt— Spencer Cox (@SpencerJCox) July 12, 2021