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Your positive COVID-19 test won’t count more than once

Health officials say no matter how many times you receive a positive COVID-19 test result, it will only be counted for the first day you tested positive.
Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 5:17 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - No matter how many times someone tests positive for COVID-19, it only counts once.

Some people who test positive for COVID-19 may end up taking the test again before they are completely clear of the virus, leading to another positive result. They could even have that happen multiple times.

However, when it comes time to add up the number of new cases, Public Health Madison Dane County leaves out all of those later tests to make sure each person is only counted once.

Health officials say no matter how many times you receive a positive COVID-19 test result, it will only be counted for the first day you tested positive.

“If someone tests positive more than once, we only count them one time,” said Rachel Kulikoff, a Population Health Fellow and member of the Public Health Madison & Dane County COVID Data team.

“If someone went to the Alliant Energy Center on a Monday and got a positive test and went again on Friday and got another positive test, we count them on the first day they got a positive test,” she explained.

At community testing sites, like the Alliant Energy Center, PHMDC data shows around 3,400 people have gotten tested more than once, but only 137 people received positive results a second time.

“Whenever we share positive cases, so people who have actually gotten a positive test for COVID, we only share the number of people who are positive, not the number of positive tests,” Kulikoff added.

Kulikoff says to be tested multiple times is fairly common, especially for essential workers.

“There are people who get tested more than once and for good reasons,” she said. “We are interested in the number of tests that were done.”

Health officials use the total number of testing data to measure testing capacity. For the total number of tests, multiple negative and positive tests are counted toward that total.

“If someone tested negative twice, and the positive, that would count as 3 tests,” said Kulikoff.

Cumulative positive case numbers do not include duplicate positive test results.

“It’s not how many positive tests have been done. It’s how many people have tested positive,” said Kulikoff. “That’s the cumulative case count.”

To view the PHMDC Data Dashboard, click HERE.

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