A series of US states have been combining two different types of coronavirus test results in their total numbers, potentially providing a muddled picture of the pandemic as the nation eases restrictions.

Virginia, Texas, Georgia, and Vermont have said they’ve been adding two numbers to their daily totals: viral test results and antibody test results.

  • Viral testsare taken by nose swab or saliva sample, and look for direct evidence someone currently has Covid-19.
  • Antibody tests use blood samples to look for biological signals that a person has been exposed to the virus in the past.

Why this is a problem: Combining the two types of tests overstates a state’s testing ability, a crucial metric as nearly all states ease coronavirus restrictions. Experts have consistently emphasized that for states to reopen, there has to be adequate testing and tracing.

“Public health officials need to know how many people in my state or my community currently have Covid-19. They also need to learn how many people had it in the past and potentially are immune to it,” said Elizabeth Cohen, CNN’s senior medical correspondent. “Those are two completely different things.”

States’ response: Texas, Virginia and Vermont said they’ve recognized the data issue and moved to fix it in the past few days.

Georgia health officials said they’ve been adding both tests to their daily totals since April in line with the methodology from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read more here: CNN News

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