Covid-19 Latest Updates and News – Reuters

So you got a positive result in the Covid-19 test you did at home. What do you do next? Among other things on your plate – isolating and informing close people, obtaining leave and rescheduling appointments – it’s good practice to report your test results.

While home tests make screening and treatment easier and faster, it’s not always easy to report illness. This confusion means that many cases are excluded from official counts.

If you test positive at a clinic or other community testing site, those results must be reported to public health departments under the CARES Act. Some home tests performed under the supervision of a trained telehealth provider are also reported to state health authorities. But if your quick test doesn’t fall into one of these categories, it can be difficult to know what to do.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “strongly encourages” anyone who self-tests to report positive results to a healthcare provider who may order a PCR test or otherwise report the data to government authorities. But only a few state health departments, including those in Colorado and Washington, collect data from home tests. Others, like those in Massachusetts and New York, let each county’s health departments decide whether they want to collect test results at home.

As a result, the official number of cases is becoming an increasingly unreliable measure of the true toll of the virus. In New York, for example, at the height of the Omicron wave, authorities recorded more than 538,000 new cases from January to mid-March. But a survey of adults in New York City said there may be more than 1.3 million additional cases that were never detected or reported during this time.

Health professionals are concerned that public reports of home testing are too sparse and unpredictable.

Head of the Department of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, Dr. “We need to better understand the amount of Covid in society as people and organizations try to plan their behavior,” said Robert Wachter. “For example, when I decide to eat inside, I don’t care how many hospitalizations there are. I want to know the probability of having Covid on my server or my deskmate.

But reporting relies on people’s ability to access testing at home in the first place, which can put people in already underserved communities at a disadvantage. Data released by the CDC in April suggested that home testing was most common among young, white, highly educated and wealthy people.

John Brownstein, an epidemiologist and chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital, who led the recent CDC research on home test use, said that even among those with access to home testing, some may be nervous about voluntarily providing personal information to local health officials. Others may be too sick or overwhelmed to cope with the administrative burden of calling, emailing, or figuring out how and when to report test results.

Dr Brownstein said developing standardized and simple reporting systems for home testing could help solve some of the problem. And information from home testing could allow researchers to calculate a better Covid index, even without uniform public participation.

Dr. “You don’t need everyone to report the test they do at home for the data to be useful,” Brownstein said. “You need to understand how representative the sample is and make the appropriate adjustments. By combining test positivity data with other indicators such as assumed case rates, sewerage information and community demographics, scientists can better understand how virus transmission has changed and contribute to prevention efforts.

Given the importance of tracking case numbers, here are four easy ways to report a positive test result at home.

Use a test’s mobile app.

Some rapid test kits, such as the BinaxNOW, iHealth, and Lucira kits, include a way to report your results, often via a mobile app, which also includes instructional videos for using the tests.

Last year, a pilot program run by the CDC and the National Institutes of Health delivered more than 1.4 million home tests to homes in Tennessee and Michigan, and found that overall test reports were low and fewer than 10,000 test results were registered as an add-on. apps. Those who used the apps were more likely to report their test results to public health officials in both states. About 75% of app users in Tennessee reported results, and 84% in Michigan reported their own results.

Share the results with your doctor.

If you test positive at home, another way to report your result is to contact your primary care provider, which the CDC recommends you do.

When calling or emailing your doctor, be sure to be prepared to share a few important details: the type of test you had, the time you had it, the date you started experiencing symptoms, and your vaccination status.

Your doctor may recommend a PCR test for confirmation and provide a medical report to help you miss work or school. Your doctor can also help you monitor for new or related symptoms, advise you on antiviral treatments, and allow you to return to work after you have fully recovered.

Contact your local health department.

Most local public health departments allow people to report their results online, although methods for obtaining test data often vary from region to region. You can find your health department’s website and information in the National Association of County and City Health Officials Directory.

Some reporting methods are straightforward, such as in Marin County, California, which has a simple online form to report results. Missouri, St. Louis County residents can search, email, or submit their results online. In Washington DC, you can use an iPhone or Android app in addition to the Department of Health’s self-reporting web portal.

Other healthcare websites are very difficult to navigate or even understand. For example, New York State’s Covid-19 resource page says residents are not required to report test results. A Department of Health representative said that since the start of the pandemic, New York has only used results from official labs or testing providers to “analyze trends and report consistent data to the public.” But some counties, such as Albany County and Tompkins County in New York, allow reporting of home test results separately from state-collected data.

Engage in crowdsourcing.

Despite not being a national home test tracking website, Dr. Researchers in Brownstein’s group have developed a crowdsourced home test results platform called OutbreaksNearMe.org that is very intuitive to use.

Originally designed to track flu outbreaks, the site has been expanded to help create maps and analyze data on Covid-19 cases submitted by volunteers. Dr. Brownstein said the site shares information with the CDC and local public health agencies and makes it available to the public.

Dr. “Home testing represents a big shift in how quickly people can identify an infection, get care and access treatment,” Brownstein said. “They’re going to be an important way to deliver healthcare in the future, so we need to make sure we monitor public health testing data.”