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VDH counting tests, not people

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recently changed the way it reports COVID-19 cases. This change is causing the VDH dashboard show an increase in case numbers.

As of Wednesday, there were 66 confirmed cases in Prince Edward County with seven hospitalizations and two deaths.

“Those of you in the media and the public that have been looking at our website, you will note that’s a big jump in the number of tests. That’s because we changed our methodology,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver said.

According to Oliver the change is so VDH can better track the percentage of positive tests.

With the change VDH is now counting cases and tests rather than individuals.

Oliver gave an example of a single patient being tested four times for the virus. “What we’re doing now is, we’re counting all four tests,” Oliver said. “That’s the difference.”

VDH uses several data sources to capture infectious disease data. The Virginia Electronic Disease Surveillance System (VEDSS) is how they capture case information and lab testing data. The Virginia Outbreak Surveillance System (VOSS) is how they capture outbreak information. These two systems connect in some ways but are intended for different purposes according to VDH.

Starting May 1, VDH began combining both of these systems to give a better picture of how many COVID-19 cases are associated with an outbreak.

“We know individual people, especially healthcare workers and those in high-risk settings, may be tested more than once over time. This new method of providing test data also allows us to provide the number of tests per day. We believe these data to be a better representation of SARS-CoV-2 testing in Virginia, and a better guide to the public and policy-makers as they assess availability,” a press release from VDH stated.

The VDH reported Monday that the Commonwealth has 25,070 COVID-19 cases compared to the 20,256 reported on Wednesday, May 6. The 25,070 cases include 23,889 confirmed cases and 1,181 possible cases. To date, 850 people in the Commonwealth have died from the virus.

In the Piedmont District which includes Prince Edward County there are 373 confirmed case and two possible cases. There have been four confirmed deaths in the district, two of those are from Prince Edward one is from Amelia and one is from Buckingham as a result of COVID-19.