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VERIFY: Is each positive test counted as a new COVID-19 test?

Oregon Health Authority officials said each person is counted as a new case, not each test.

PORTLAND, Oregon — KGW continues to get questions related to COVID-19 testing and data, including how the state comes up with its daily numbers.

Viewer Colleen Fletcher asked KGW's Verify team this question via email:

"I have a friend insisting that some states are counting positive COVID-19 tests as positive cases. So, if one person gets 4 positive tests, that counts as 4 cases. Can you verify one way or the other?" 

The claim about multiple tests being counted multiple times has been going around on social media for months now.

Doctors with the Oregon Health Authority said multiple positive tests from the same person do not count as multiple new cases.

"In Oregon, we're are counting people not the number of tests. So each person can only count as one positive test," said an epidemilogist with OHA during a recent Facebook Live Q and A. "So, when we say that there are, for example, 10 new cases in a specific county, these are new people diagnosed with COVID-19."

Oregon COVID-19 Data Q&A

Many of you have been following Oregon’s COVID-19 data closely and have asked us some great questions about it. Wednesday, July 15 you can have your questions answered by our data experts directly. Join us at 12:30 p.m. here on our Facebook page for a live Q&A on COVID-19 data. Questions: 13:24 – How many of the new cases reported each day are retests of people who already have COVID-19? 14:12 – Why don’t the case counts add up from one day to another? 16:04 – What happens if a presumptive case tests negative? 16:50 – Is it possible to know if someone dies of COVID-19 and not just with it? 18:05 – Why has there been a sharp increase in the percentage of cases with an unknown hospitalization status? 19:00 – What about HIPAA laws that protect our information? 20:20 – Does OHA have data on active and recovered cases? 21:30 – Is there data on the underlying conditions of people who die or have COVID-19? 22:10 – Will the Trump Administration’s new mandate that hospitals report COVID-19 numbers to HHS instead of CDC impact how OHA gets its numbers? 24:25 – What about false positives? Are those results skewing the data? 25:00 – How many of the presumptive cases turn out to be negative and are those numbers subtracted from the total? 26:10 – Is Oregon using antigen or pooled testing? 28:24 – Can you provide an overview of how Oregon is fairing in comparison to other states? 30:37 – Is there any data on where people are getting COVID-19?

Posted by Oregon Health Authority on Wednesday, July 15, 2020

KGW can Verify: Oregon is not counting each positive test as a new case.

Do you have something you want us to Verify? Let us know, email us at Verify@kgw.com

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