Texas Covid-19 Positivity Reports Under Scrutiny

Sep 29, 2020

Credit Courtesy: Image by CDC

TEXAS COVID UPDATES — Texas health officials report 1,397 new coronavirus cases and 11 additional deaths due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. The Texas Department of State Health Services on Monday reported 739,743 coronavirus cases and 15,533 deaths. The true number of cases is likely higher though because many people haven’t been tested and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. The health department also estimated 67,570 active cases of the virus, including 3,201 current hospital patients.

TEXAS COVID REPORTING -  Health experts across the country are taking another look at how states report Covid-19.  The PolicyLab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has been tracking the spread of COVID-19 on a county by county level.  Dr. David Rubin is the director. He's concerned that Texas does not include the number of positive antigen tests with the more common nasal swab tests.  According to the Department of State Health Services, antigen tests are less sensitive than other COVID-19 tests and are more likely to result in a false negative. That's why Texas reports positive antigen tests as "probable" rather than confirmed cases, and does not use those results to calculate positivity rates.   Rubin thinks they should though, to be transparent.

Texas reports positive antigen tests as "probable" rather than confirmed cases, and does not use those results to calculate positivity rates
Credit Courtesy: Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia

"It's also just possible people don't understand the difference between these antigen tests and these PCR tests, that a test that is specific that may not be as sensitive. A positive is still a positive," Rubin explained.

Rubin says another potential issue is the state reporting backlogged cases alongside current numbers. That makes it harder for counties to track the spread of COVID-19.