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DPH updates site to reflect antibody test info | Here's why the change is important

11Alive learned that of more than 77,000 antibody tests done, about 4,600 came back positive.

ATLANTA — A week after its coronavirus testing figure came under sharp criticism for including antibody tests, the Georgia Department of Public Health is now providing some clarity on how those tests fit into the large picture.

11Alive Reveal Investigator Rebecca Lindstrom learned Wednesday that out of 77,835 serological (antibody) tests the state now identifies among its overall total, 4,618 were positive results.

The state also said those will not be added to the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, to avoid counting anyone twice.

The antigen test detects new cases of coronavirus in a person, and involves a nasal swab.The antibody test shows proof of a past infection and possible resistance to the virus.

RELATED: Comparing the number of people hospitalized to COVID-19 deaths

The state had promised a week ago it would pull those serology test numbers out of the total tests reported each day. 11Alive also learned serology data has been mixed into the total tests since April 16.

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Health
The Georgia Department of Public Health website, reflecting its new addition of antibody testing totals.

Here’s why that matters. Gov. Brian Kemp likes to point to the percentage of positive cases to total tests given as a sign things are getting better. When the data is lumped together, we get an 8.5 percent positivity rate. 

But now we know 77,835 of those tests are actually serology – or antibody – tests. Pull those out and our percentage increases to just more than 10 percent.

Heading into the Memorial Day weekend, we did notice a spike in cases

Comparing the last seven days (5/20-5/26) to the seven days prior (5/13-5/19), we saw the daily average of newly reported cases rise by more than 100, from about 489 to 597.

It may take a week or two before we know if this is the result of better testing, or a significant new wave of cases in our state.

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information.

We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information.


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