“New” COVID Cases Doesn’t Mean They All Happened at “Once”
When you look at local news reports, or even national, and the headlines proclaim "_____ (fill in any number) of new COVID cases reported," or "(blank) number of new cases reported over the weekend," it doesn't mean those people all contracted or were confirmed with the virus in a one or two or even three day period.
It's become one of the most misleading, and perhaps least talked about, issues concerning COVID-19. Depending upon where you are tested, results can be as quick as an hour, or take much longer.
Some of the headlines and stories make it sound like "123" people all got tested an all 'were positive' over the same weekend because of this big event....rather misleading.
According to the Washington State Department of Health's own website under the heading of "How Long to Results Take?"
"It depends on the type of test, and where the sample is sent for testing. The results can come back in as quickly as 10 minutes or as long as several days, as some of the labs that are processing the test have a backlog and can take longer. This will depend on where your healthcare provider sends the test for analysis. (bold lettering added for emphasis).
The website went on to say:
The state Public Health Lab can process about 500 tests per day with no backlog, running tests seven days per week."
The WSDOH did acknowledge there have and continue to be delays with some commercial (non WSDOH or state) testing labs getting results back.
We know of a person who was exposed, and chose to spend the money to be privately tested in a manner that returned the results in about an hour. Others choose to be tested at their personal doctor's office, public health clinics, or even those Lynx Health trailers you see parked along Clearwater in Kennewick.
All will produce various time tables. And, sometimes people will choose to only be tested when the onset of symptoms begin, others only after they are noticeably ill.
Aside from the one hour person, we also know of several people whose tests took well over a week or even two to come back. But they are still considered new at the time they show up to the BFHD or WSDOH database.
The "new" refers to them being reported to WSDOH by way of BFHD for the first time.
When you read about "XX" number of 'new' cases, some of them could be as old as several weeks, and the person is already recovering or in many cases was asymptomatic (never "got sick").
The reason this is finally starting to get some traction in being examined by the media is largely due to claims by health officials that "spikes" in cases turned up right after Memorial Day, the 4th of July and now officials are worried about the upcoming Labor Day Holiday.
Even if increases do occur, these cases will still contain at least some mix of rapid and delayed results. It's up to media outlets to monitor and stay on top of this, along with ALL the other data to provide an accurate and factual picture of situation.