Are COVID Numbers Spiking Because of Testing? Here's What Experts Say

Some suggest that increased testing is skewing COVID numbers, but data suggests another factor is at play.

There has been ample discussion regarding the rising number of coronavirus cases throughout the United States, with many people—including public officials—citing increased testing as the real reason COVID numbers are skyrocketing. However, recent data shows that's not the case. According to the COVID Tracking Project, case growth is outpacing the growth in testing in more than half of the U.S., demonstrating that the alarming spike in coronavirus cases can't be pinned on testing alone. In fact, 28 states are now seeing a greater uptick in new coronavirus cases—both lab-confirmed and probable—than administered tests.

Coronavirus test

Among the states with the largest disparities between new coronavirus cases and testing is Florida, which has seen a recent 1,061 percent increase in cases and only a 141 percent increase in testing. Other states with a major gap between growth and testing are coronavirus hotspots Texas, South Carolina, and Nevada.

While this data does indicate a major increase in the availability and administration of coronavirus tests, it also makes another alarming truth apparent: that new cases are increasing faster than testing capabilities. So what does this mean in terms of the pandemic's longevity? According to Axios, which charted the COVID Tracking Project's data, a good measure of an outbreak being under control is when testing is growing faster than new cases; while this has occurred in the District of Columbia and New York, it points to a largely out-of-control epidemic in many other states.

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"The numbers we should be looking at [are] the percent of positives versus the total number of people tested," Ashok Rai, MD, president and CEO of Prevea Health, explained to WBAY. "If that rate is increasing…and the amount of testing you're doing is increasing, but not increasing at that same rate, it actually means you're not testing enough."

Until the growth of testing aligns with the growth of cases throughout the country, the spike in cases shouldn't be considered a good sign—but only time will tell how long it will take other states to catch up. "The reality is that states like Arizona, Florida, and Texas are struggling to meet the demand for coronavirus tests, meaning the pandemic is already outpacing those states' ability to respond to it," according to Axios. And for more insight into where coronavirus cases are rising, Dr. Fauci Has This Alarming Message About Future State Lockdowns.

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