I’m starting to focus less on new cases and testing numbers. I’ll keep posting that data, but won’t discuss it on a daily basis, unless there is something of interest to note. Basically, we have seen a fairly stable rate of increasing cases when testing goes up, and decreasing cases when testing goes down. But we aren’t seeing many other troubling signs to go along with the new cases. We know this virus is out there, and people are getting it, but the impact appears to be much less.
After an initial surge in testing when it was opened up to asymptomatic Georgians, testing has dropped across the state. Many people are unaware of how to get a test, and have questions about the process and the cost.
There are a lot of options to get tested for COVID-19 across the state, from private clinics, testing events, and public health testing locations. There is also confusion about what types of test to get, with both viral (PCR) tests and antibody (serology) tests widely available.
Georgia is a large state, with huge differences between the Atlanta metro and rural counties. As a result, it’s important to know how to get information about coronavirus in your local area. There are two main places to get more local information about the spread of COVID-19 in specific areas: the Georgia DPH Dashboard, and your regional public health district. In general, the public health districts in the Atlanta metro area have more detailed information available, but some other districts also provide excellent resources.
A few weeks ago, Governor Kemp celebrated a new milestone of reaching less than 1000 people currently hospitalized with COVID in the state, many have raised questions about how this number is so different than the Total Hospitalized number that appears on the DPH web site. They are two completely different numbers that come from different sources, so I thought it would be helpful to explain what I know about these metrics.
News came out on Wednesday, May 20, that Georgia DPH has been including antibody tests in their total testing numbers, but not including antibody positives in the confirmed case numbers. They are working to fix this reporting issue on the web site, but I wanted to explain a little more about what the problem is and why it matters.
UPDATE: As of June 2, Georgia is now sharing the number of antibody tests and positive antibody test results, as well the number of PCR tests and number of positive PCR test results. However, we learned that these testing numbers are only for tests reported via their electronic reporting system. About 10% of cases are reported outside of the electronic reporting system, and we don’t have testing numbers for these cases. As a result, our test numbers are actually under reported. Learn more about the GA DPH COVID web site.
- Viral and antibody tests have been intermixed in the Georgia test totals, but only positive viral tests are listed as cases.
- Georgia DPH started providing serology (antibody) testing totals on their web site as of May 27. At that time, there were 77,835 antibody tests, or 15% of the total.
- Many states have been criticized for mixing these test and/or case numbers, and even the CDC has been combining these numbers for some reason.
It’s been over a week since this happened, but I keep getting asked about this, so I thought I’d provide my thoughts on the matter, as someone who has been scouring the GA DPH site on a daily basis.
Yes, Georgia DPH had a graph on the COVID-19 Daily Status Report that had the dates not in chronological order. Here’s what it looked like:
This is of course insane. Nobody makes graphs with dates in a non-chronological fashion. It’s just wrong. I was very glad to see they fixed it promptly. I’m not giving them a pass on it at all. However, I think the media is making a much bigger deal out of it than it actually is.
Georgia, like many states, doesn’t track or report recovered patients, but it’s a number that a lot of people would like to know. Of the states that do report on recovered patients, it’s often just an estimate based on the assumption that people have either recovered or died after some period of time. Georgia doesn’t do this, but we can make the same rough estimate on our own.
It depends on who you ask. The graphs of cases and deaths over time on the Georgia DPH Status Report have been the subject of much debate and confusion. It’s part of the reason I started tracking the data myself, and then why I made this site. It’s impossible to see the current trends for the past 2 weeks using their graphs, because those numbers are all incomplete and subject to change. (And they do change – significantly – over the two week period.)
Yesterday, the CDC and their Director shared on social media and on their web site that they use 12 different forecasting models for COVID-19 deaths in the US and that “all indicate an increase in deaths in the coming weeks.” This story was picked up and shared widely. However, it’s absolute fear-mongering and not based in truth.
It seems like every day there’s another headline or person claiming that cases or deaths are going up in Georgia. The DPH site posts totals of confirmed cases and deaths on their web site, so until a day goes by where we don’t have a single new case or a single death reported, those numbers will go up. Cumulative graphs of cases and deaths also always increase. You can only see the trend by looking at the changes over a period of time.