5.25.2020

"You've got to be kidding me ... How could the CDC make that mistake? This is a mess."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and several state health departments have been reporting COVID-19 diagnostic tests and antibody tests as one grand tally, rather than keeping their results separate, The Atlantic reported.

Reporting these numbers as a lump sum, rather than two distinct data points, presents several major issues.

Namely, combining the numbers could make America's diagnostic testing capabilities and testing rates appear higher than they actually are, according to The Atlantic. And as the tests serve profoundly different purposes, "positive" results from either test cannot be interpreted in the same way. Reporting all the positive results together, as one number, could skew our understanding of how many new COVID-19 cases emerge over time — a crucial metric to help control outbreaks as states begin reopening.

When told how the CDC chose to lump the results of both tests together, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute Ashish Jha told The Atlantic,

"You've got to be kidding me ... How could the CDC make that mistake? This is a mess."