Accuracy of COVID case counts in question with at-home tests not required to be reported

Coronavirus Impacting Iowa

WHO 13 NEWS – There are concerns from health officials that current COVID-19 case counts aren’t telling the full story.

Several Iowans took at-home rapid tests ahead of the holidays, but we’re learning the results for those are not required to be reported. Now, health departments across the state aren’t sure exactly how many people are infected.

“Positivity report is only what’s coming through our doors,” Webster County Public Health Director Kari Prescott said. “I mean with home tests and CVS and everyone else who can do it on their own, that positive rate is probably skewed. There are probably a lot of people out in our community that are positive that we don’t know about.”

Polk County has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state, and in the last week reported more than 3300 positive tests. Nola Aigner Davis with Polk County Health Department predicts that number could be higher.

“And then if we had those positive cases, well they weren’t getting reported to us,” Aigner Davis said. “So we don’t really fully see the full picture of the spread in our community.”

That’s why Aigner Davis advises Iowans to verify their results by taking a PCR test. Tests done through Test Iowa, health care providers, private labs, and pharmacies are required to be reported to the state, giving health officials a better idea of how many positive cases there are. Not to mention, laboratory-confirmed tests are also able to detect which variant is present.

“When we don’t have that bigger picture, we can’t see how it’s impacting how COVID-19 is fully impacting the community,” Aigner Davis said. “And so that’s why it’s incredibly important for us to know that.”

If you are looking for a test kit, you can request one or schedule to pick one up for free at TestIowa.com.

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