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‘False positives are not ballooning Knox County COVID -19 case count’ says Health Department

Dr. Martha Buchanan with the Knox County Health Department clarified how positive COVID-19 cases are counted in Knox County saying that false positives are not making the numbers appear higher than they are in reality.
Dr. Martha Buchanan at The Knox County Health Department
Dr. Martha Buchanan at The Knox County Health Department(WVLT)
Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 1:59 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 31, 2020 at 6:24 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Dr. Martha Buchanan with the Knox County Health Department clarified how positive COVID-19 cases are counted in Knox County, saying that false positives are not making the numbers appear higher than they are in reality.

“False positives are not ballooning the COVID-19 case county in Knox County,” said Dr. Buchanan. “There are many more people who do have the virus and get a false negative.”

Dr. Buchanan said false negatives present a much more concerning risk to the community because someone who has the virus may continue to live life as normal and unknowingly infect those around them. She also said the number of people who receive both a positive and negative test is “very low,” but that in such a case they err on the side of caution and count the individual as positive to prevent them from potentially spreading the virus since there’s no way to know which test was correct.

“Remember that no test is 100 percent accurate, COVID or not. All have false positives and false negatives.”

Dr. Buchanan said health officials have a high degree of confidence in the test used by KCHD, a PCR test which she called the “gold standard.”

Buchanan said a local epidemiologist reported that false-positive tests only affect three to four out of every 1,000 tests given.

Copyright 2020 WVLT. All rights reserved.

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