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Some states are reporting incomplete COVID-19 results, blurring the full picture

Fred Schulte, Kaiser Health News on

Published in News & Features

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website says: "Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19."

The CDC also notes that most people have mild illness and will recover at home, adding "there is no treatment specifically approved for this virus."

Decisions about testing "are at the discretion of state and local health departments and/or individual clinicians," it says. The agency notes that older adults and individuals with chronic medical conditions and/or an immunocompromised state may be at "higher risk for poor outcomes."

And as the disease has spread, hard-hit areas have asked that tests be reserved for people in the hospital and health care workers, both to ensure they can stay on the job and to conserve protective gear.

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a tweet last week noted that the nationwide 10% figure for positive test results is "significantly higher" than in the United Kingdom, South Korea and China.

"Until we see the positivity rate decline significantly, we are still not screening enough," Gottlieb wrote.


(Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.)

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