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Some Positives from Recent Centre County COVID-19 Spike 'Were Not Valid,' DOH Says

by on July 29, 2020 2:07 PM

Updated at 3:15 p.m. on July 29, 2020

Some positive test results included in a recent one-day surge of new COVID-19 cases in Centre County "were not valid," a Department of Health spokesperson said on Wednesday.

On Sunday, the health department reported 43 new cases in the county, nearly four times the previous single-day high of 11. Mount Nittany Health, which sends test samples to an outside lab, noticed the unusual spike in positive results at the end of last week and contacted DOH to coordinate review of the tests and conduct re-testing, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nirmal Joshi said.

"The Pennsylvania Department of Health has determined a number of the positive test results were not valid," DOH spokesman Nate Wardle wrote in an email. "We are reviewing those tests, retesting, and will change our data (as needed) to reflect the results of these tests in the near future."

Wardle did not specify precisely how many were not valid.

Joshi said in an email that individuals involved were re-tested over the weekend.

"We use multiple commercial labs to conduct COVID-19 tests, and we closely monitor and review the results that are returned to us," Joshi said. "When we received an unusually high number of positive results on Friday, we immediately alerted the Department of Health and implemented a plan to quickly re-test these individuals over the weekend. On retesting, the Department of Health has determined that a number of the original test results are not valid. These tests are being reviewed and data will be updated by the Department of Health. Patients are being contacted with their updated test results.

"Based on the volume of test results we have received to date, this was clearly an unusual pattern that prompted further follow up and investigation and we appreciate the collaboration with the Department of Health.”

After Sunday's reported numbers, Centre County Board of Commissioners Chair Michael Pipe also reached out to the governor's office and health department for clarification.

"The request we made to them is ongoing. If we can get some sort of context on a daily basis about the type of cases we’re seeing from them, that would be appreciated, just because we have many different entities that are doing the testing, many entities that are doing the reporting, so that would be helpful as we go forward," Pipe said during Tuesday's commissioners meeting.

The health department currently lists 370 total cases for Centre County since the first was reported on March 20, including five new cases added on Wednesday.  As of noon on Wednesday, two COVID-19 patients in Centre County are hospitalized.

Centre County has had 10 COVID-19 deaths according to DOH, though the coroner's office has confirmed only seven.

Penn State also reported on Wednesday that as of July 24, eight student-athletes have tested positive for COVID-19. The athletic department has conducted 466 tests and 66 are still pending.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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