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Coronavirus: What does "presumptive positive" mean?

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Posted at 11:24 AM, Mar 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-15 12:25:51-04

After the Bell County Public Health Department reported their first "presumptive positive" case of COVID-19, some viewers were left wondering what that actually means.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), a presumptive positive result is when a patient has tested positive by a local public health laboratory, but results are still pending confirmation at a CDC lab.

There are three levels the CDC uses to classify a potential case of COVID-19:

  1. Person Under Investigation (PUI): Any person who is under investigation for having the virus that causes COVID-19, or who was under investigation but tested negative for the virus.
  2. Presumptive Positive case of COVID-19: Anyone who has tested positive for the virus, but testing was conducted at the local or state level. Currently, presumptive positive cases must have sample undergo confirmatory testing at the CDC.
  3. Laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19: Anyone who has tested positive for the virus at the CDC laboratory.

Coronavirus cases reported to the CDC include both CDC-confirmed cases and presumptive positive cases reported by the states.

Click here to learn more about COVID-19 and how to help prevent the spread of the virus.