More than Half of States Are Not Following This CDC Guideline

With at least 28 states not complying with this practices, the CDC's numbers could be way off.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, people have looked to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for correct, updated information on the number of cases across the United States. The CDC compiles the tallies of COVID-19 cases submitted to them by each state, so the information they disseminate is only as good as what they receive. Right now, more than half of states are not following one critical guideline when reporting cases to the CDC, which could drastically change their daily new cases totals.

While CDC coronavirus reporting guidelines are voluntary, states are strongly advised to adhere to the them to get a number that is as close to accurate as possible. The guidelines ask that states report probable cases of coronavirus as well as those that have been confirmed. Probable cases are defined by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) as either cases that show evidence of a coronavirus infection without a lab test or cases in which coronavirus is assumed to have been a cause of death without a lab test. However, CNN reports that "at least 28 states are not following" those recommendations, "half of which saw the trend of new cases increasing in the last week."

Doctor writing down data

The states that are not including probable cases in the count they submit to the CDC, they could be grossly underestimating the number of cases in their state, which would make it challenging for officials to gauge where America stands. According to CNN, some of the states not reporting probable cases include California, Florida, New York, and Texas, all of which have large populations and are already reporting the highest numbers of new cases, even without probables. Officials in Montana, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia told The Washington Post that they are not reporting probable cases because they don't believe they've had any, due to the low number of cases and the accessibility of testing in their states.

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Including probable cases in disease tallies is common practice and was done during the H1N1 Flu pandemic in 2009. CSTE Executive Director Janet Hamilton told The Washington Post that the failure of many states to document probable coronavirus cases and deaths is "historic in many ways because there are lots of probable case classifications and probables are regularly and normally reported on," adding that the institution was "definitely concerned about the undercounting." Undercounting cases could ultimately lead to inaccurate data and a misunderstanding of the disease's true impact on the country's population. For more facts about spread, This Is Exactly When Coronavirus Cases Started Climbing Again.

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Allie Hogan
Allie Hogan is a Brooklyn based writer currently working on her first novel. Read more
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