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There will be a big spike in COVID-19 cases Tuesday as ODH clears backlog of positive antigen tests

Posted at 2:52 PM, Dec 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-07 16:22:10-05

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine announced that the state will be changing the way it reports positive COVID-19 cases by reporting positive antigen test results alongside other testing right away, moving away from manually verifying each result before including them in the count.

That change will begin on Tuesday and will result in an immediate spike in cases as the Ohio Department of Health clears its backlogged cases that were waiting to be verified.

CDC change in August
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its case definition in August, which allows antigen tests to be included in case counts without additional verification. Still, the state continued to manually verify every positive antigen test, checking exposures and symptoms for each case before including them in the reported case count.

The state has been averaging 12,500 antigen tests per day, with around 700 positives each day on average, DeWine said.

Over the past month, with the recent surge in COVID-19 spread, the number of antigen tests has doubled and the number of positive antigen test results has also increased to almost double.

Due to the large number of positive tests coming that needed to be verified manually, ODH and epidemiologists told DeWine that they were no longer able to keep up with the manual verification process.

State will match CDC guidance
Beginning Tuesday, the state will align with the CDC's method and will reflect antigen-positive test results in the daily reported case count moving forward.

Right now, there are around 12,600 positive antigen tests pending verification in the state’s queue, which will be cleared and added to the reported case counts.

Those cases will cause a one-day spike on Tuesday, but they will be assigned to their onset date in the state’s system.

DeWine said the backlogged cases will not translate into new cases and they will be checked and duplicate records will be removed.

The antigen results will also be added to the positivity calculation in the upcoming weeks, although that change will not begin on Tuesday.

More data from state
The governor said that the state will report the combined positivity for all testing methods, but will provide a breakdown of the positivity rate for each type of testing on its website.

On Monday, the state also announced that it had launched a new online portal called the DataOhio Portal. Click here to learn more.