What Exactly is Meant by “New” COVID Cases? We Explain (again)
Some time ago, we did a story about this, during the summer months when it seemed as through every time we turned around, media outlets were bombarding us with stories of "(blank)" number of new cases here, "X" number of new COVID cases there.
Honestly, from all the feedback we got, (and still get) and closely monitoring various social media and other platforms where people can voice opinions, there's still a LOT of confusion and misconception about what defines a "new" COVID case.
For starters, there are a variety of testing methods. Depending upon where you go, you can get a result back in as fast as an hour, or it may even take a number of days.
Then the data has to be sent to the Washington State Department of Health, by way of your local health district.
The word "new" is correct in that this is (presumably) a person who has not had COVID before, therefore they are a "new" case. However, from there, it gets confusing.
The cases are logged as they are received by the BFHD and the WSDOH. Due to the testing time factors we mentioned earlier, a test they enter may have been taken a number of days earlier but the results were not available until now.
A number of times during this COVID period, even WSDOH officials have said various testing sites have experienced delays or backlogs in processing tests. This tended to create occasional 'floods' of tests that would arrive at WSDOH when they were finally cleared.
Just because WSDOH or BFHD reports "66" new cases, they may actually be spread out over as long as ten days, perhaps even two weeks. It doesn't mean that 66 people all took the test and were diagnosed with COVID or COVID like symptoms on the same day.
It is possible BFHD or WSDOH gets a block of test results in one day, and they all get entered at once. Yes, they're new, but actually likely spread out.
However, the continual use of the word "new" by many local, regional and national media without also providing this time table context has led many to believe that, in this case as an example, there was an 'explosion' of 66 new cases. This has caused, proven by surveys and research, unnecessary fear and even fatigue among citizens--they start tuning out the drumbeat.
This is especially important now as B-F counties are seeing continual declines in COVID and schools are going to reopen (albeit Hybrid).
So when you see these headlines screaming "XX" new cases, remember, they are reported as they are received. This kind of perspective is important.
And also consider the death rates, the demographic where the virus continues to cause fatalities the most (elderly and compromised individuals) as well.
To see the BFHD COVID page, click on the button below.