Is it possible to be counted among the number of CCP Virus (COVOID-19) infections when you haven’t even been tested for it? The answer is a resounding YES. You might be labeled as a ‘probable’ case and included in the tally. Critics maintain that including “probables” could artificially inflate COVID-19 case numbers, however, others say it is an accurate method to determine the spread of the virus.
The Texas Department of State Health (DSHS) reported 10,791 new confirmed cases of the infection on Wednesday, July 15, but confessed they had removed 3,484 cases from the total, posting to their official Facebook page, reported The Blaze. “The San Antonio Metro Health District has clarified its reporting to separate confirmed and probable cases, so the Bexar County and statewide totals have been updated to remove 3,484 probable cases. The local case count previously included probable cases identified by antigen testing but not those from antibody testing or other sources.”
“Since we report confirmed cases on our dashboard, we have removed 3,484 previously reported probable cases from the statewide and Bexar County totals,” Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the health agency, told the Austin American-Statesman.
While DSHS has now removed probable cases from the dashboard, the state health department guidelines that determine a probable case includes those who haven’t had a positive polymerase chain reaction diagnostic (PCR) test for the virus, but who do exhibit two of three criteria:
A positive quick-result antigen test
Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
Close contact with a confirmed positive COVID-19 case
In San Antonio, probable case counts specifically include symptomatic individuals who had a positive antigen test. “Probable cases do not mean ‘maybe’ cases of COVID-19,” said Dr. Colleen Bridger, interim director of Metro Health. “Antigen tests are FDA approved, and positive tests are highly accurate. San Antonio is one of only three Texas cities collecting and reporting this data per the CDC guidelines, but the State of Texas wants apples-to-apples comparisons between Texas cities.”
“The State of Texas today had to remove 3,484 cases from its Covid-19 [CCP Virus] positive case count because the San Antonio Health Department was reporting ‘probable’ cases for people never actually tested, as ‘confirmed’ positive cases,” KDFW-TV news anchor Steve Eagar tweeted on Wednesday. “What other departments make this same mistake?”
“[An antigen test] is still considered an accurate positive. Experts actually prefer an antigen test be used when you’re testing large populations. Now in San Antonio, as we have more widespread prevalence of COVID-19, it’s definitely a good test to use in our community,” Metro Health Assistant Director Mario Martinez said on Friday, reports KSAT.
“To be clear, this is not an ‘error’ in Metro Health’s reporting,” Bridger said Thursday. “This is a disagreement over what should be reported in total counts. We will continue to align our definitions with those from the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services while honoring the state’s request to separate probable cases.”
Wednesday marked the sixth straight day the state had more than 10,000 patients in Texas hospitals. The total hospitalizations reported Wednesday was slightly fewer than the 10,569 patients reported a day earlier.
UTHealth officials have explained the difference between antigen and PCR tests: There are two types of tests, a polymerase chain reaction diagnostic (PCR) test, which uses a 6-inch-long swab inserted into the nasal cavity, and antigen tests, which are conducted through nasal swabs or mouth swabs. Antigen tests yield results in minutes but may give a false negative result. PCR tests results take longer but are more sensitive to the coronavirus and more accurate.